Edtech startups flourish in first week of July

CoinDCX, India’s largest crypto exchange, has announced the acquisition of BitOasis, a UAE-based virtual assets trading platform. (Supplied)
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Updated 14 July 2024

Edtech startups flourish in first week of July

  • Startup ecosystem busy with venture investments and strategic acquisitions

CAIRO: From educational technology to digital content and cryptocurrency, the startup ecosystem is buzzing with activity as significant venture investments and strategic acquisitions take place across various sectors.  

Saudi-based Jeel, an edtech startup for children, adolescents, parents, and educators, has secured a seven-figure funding from RZM Investment and a group of prominent angel investors.

Jeel plans to strengthen its presence in the business-to-business and business-to-government sectors by offering its services to institutions and governments. 

“Our goal is to broaden our scope and impact in digital content by partnering with institutions and governments, thereby driving growth in the sector,” said a Jeel spokesperson.  

The funding will also be used to add new languages to the Jeel app, aiming to attract more users from various Arab countries and expand into new markets within the region. 

“We are committed to providing a superior user experience by integrating new features and continually improving our app,” the spokesperson added. 

Additionally, the company will launch a comprehensive online store to facilitate the purchase of Jeel app-related products and services, providing users with a seamless experience and contributing to the company’s revenue growth. 

“With this investment, Jeel reaffirms its commitment to providing innovative and purposeful digital content for children, adolescents, parents, and educators, with a focus on enhancing and enriching the Arabic language,” the spokesperson added.  

This strategic investment will enable Jeel to further its mission of delivering high-quality educational and entertaining digital content, positioning itself as a leader in the industry, the release stated.

CoinDCX acquires BitOasis to strengthen MENA presence 

CoinDCX, India’s largest crypto exchange, has announced the acquisition of BitOasis, a UAE-based virtual assets trading platform.  

This strategic move follows CoinDCX’s investment in BitOasis in August 2023 as the company aims to strengthen its presence in the Middle East and North Africa.

The acquisition will empower BitOasis to expand its presence across the MENA region, leveraging its newly acquired license in Bahrain and its platform reopening in Dubai. 

Established in 2018, CoinDCX claims it boasts a robust user base of over 15 million and facilitates average quarterly trading volumes exceeding $840 million in spot in 2024.  

“Building on six years of success, CoinDCX aims to become the go-to trading platform for crypto worldwide,” said Sumit Gupta, co-founder of the firm. 

Jeel plans to strengthen its presence in the business-to-business and business-to-government sectors by offering its services to institutions and governments. (Supplied)

“For us, investor protection has been paramount, and we have distinguished ourselves in India with unwavering compliance,” he added. 

BitOasis, founded in 2016 by Ola Doudin, Tarek Kaylani, and Daniel Robenek, is the first and largest crypto asset exchange in the MENA region. It is available in 15 countries across the region, allowing its users to buy, hold and sell over 60 cryptocurrencies. 

The company claims to have processed over $6 billion in trading volume and secured more than $40 million in funding from leading regional and global investors.  

“CoinDCX’s acquisition marks an exciting new chapter for BitOasis, one that propels us forward on much stronger ground,” said Doudin, CEO of BitOasis.  

“Trust and regulatory compliance have been key pillars in our mission to drive crypto adoption across MENA,” she added. 

The acquisition will enable BitOasis to offer a broader product portfolio, enhanced crypto services, increased liquidity, and improved trading options.  

“Users can expect an overall enhanced experience with access to a wider range of tokens and better trading options,” Doudin added.  

Sumit Gupta emphasized that BitOasis’ brand and leadership team will remain unchanged following the acquisition, fostering seamless synergy and collaboration between both organizations.  

“Joining forces with BitOasis aligns perfectly with our vision of establishing a formidable foothold across the MENA region, catering to a diverse range of retail and institutional clients,” Gupta said.

EdVentures invests $400k in Egyptian online education platform El Kheta 

Egyptian EdVentures, the investment arm of Nahdet Misr Group specializing in educational technology, has announced a $400,000 investment in El Kheta, an online platform for Egyptian students.   

El Kheta offers reinforcement lessons, exams, and interactive videos from the new Egyptian curriculum, providing students with a customized and flexible educational experience.  

“We firmly believe in the potential of the El Kheta platform to revolutionize the online education sector in Egypt,” said Dalia Ibrahim, founder and chairwoman of Nahdet Misr for Entrepreneurship EdVentures.  

“We are committed to supporting talented entrepreneurs in the educational technology sector and helping them achieve their vision of creating a better and easier educational experience for everyone,” she added. 

The El Kheta platform offers students the ability to choose their preferred curricula and create study plans that suit their needs.  

Services include reinforcement lessons, interactive educational videos, homework assignments, and direct communication with teachers.  

This personalized approach aims to improve students’ academic performance and overall success. “Our goal is to empower youth and expand the scope of online education opportunities for school students in Egypt,” Ibrahim said.

Germany’s Mitgo Group launches $20m fintech Capy 

Germany-based holding company Mitgo Group has launched a $20 million fintech startup called Capy, targeting the MENA market.  

This investment package will be distributed over the next three years. The initial tranche will be allocated towards developing the platform’s first version, with a particular focus on early and accelerated payment solutions. 

In the first quarter of 2024, Mitgo Group announced the introduction of fintech services for publishers in the affiliate market, including cashback services, media buying, loyalty programs, and buy-now-pay-later services.  

This new direction is being launched on the foundation of the recently acquired UAE-based embedded finance platform, Embedded.

Since the acquisition, Embedded has received additional funding and comprehensive support, and it has been relaunched as Capy within Mitgo’s global holding company.

Saudi Arabia, Thailand to enhance opportunities in energy fields amid top ministerial meeting

Updated 7 sec ago

Saudi Arabia, Thailand to enhance opportunities in energy fields amid top ministerial meeting

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Thailand are on track to enhance opportunities in various energy fields thanks to a top ministerial meeting between officials from both countries. 

The gathering, attended by the Kingdom’s Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, who is currently visiting Saudi Arabia, shed light on many energy fields.

Topics of discussion included oil and gas, renewable energy, and hydrogen, as well as carbon extraction, use and storage, and energy efficiency, according to a statement. 

This falls in line with the ongoing efforts between both sides to further propel economic ties between them. 

Trade relations between the two nations saw business soar to $8.8 billion in 2023, up from $7.5 billion following the countries restoring ties in 2022. 

This represents nearly 22 percent of Thailand’s total trade with the Middle East, underscoring a flourishing economic partnership.

Moreover, during the meeting, the two sides discussed the Kingdom’s efforts to lead the transformation in the field of energy through projects such as the “Saudi Green Initiative” and the “Middle East Green Initiative.” 

Earlier this week, the Kingdom’s Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih highlighted that Saudi Arabia is set to enhance private sector cooperation with Thailand as the Southeast Asian nation opens its first board of investment office in Riyadh. 

On the sidelines of the business forum in the Saudi capital at the time, Al-Falih emphasized that this marks Thailand’s inaugural office in the Middle East, encouraging stronger bonds and new investment opportunities in both countries.

Addressing the business delegation at the Saudi-Thailand Investment Forum, Al-Falih said at the time: “Representative offices from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and your country will do a great deal of facilitating private sector to private sector cooperation and allowing us to reach the potential that I mentioned.”    

The minister also stressed at the time the common parallels between the two countries, noting they share a “great deal of complementarity.”

Thailand has its National Strategy 2037, whereas Saudi Arabia has its Vision 2030.   

“Which naturally leads me to emphasize the energy sector, including its multifaceted branches downstream: biofuels, biochemicals and CCUS (carbon capture utilization and storage), hydrogen, and renewables,” he said at the time.

Closing Bell: Saudi main index closes in green at 12,080

Updated 31 min 52 sec ago

Closing Bell: Saudi main index closes in green at 12,080

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index continued its upward trend for the third consecutive day on Tuesday, gaining 132.67 points or 1.11 percent to close at 12,080.37.

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR7.25 billion ($1.93 billion), with 140 of the listed stocks advancing and 73 declining. 

Similarly, Saudi Arabia’s parallel market Nomu edged up by 0.27 percent to 25,919.13. 

The MSCI Tadawul Index also gained 15.72 points to close at 1,513.57. 

The best-performing stocks of the day were AYYAN Investment Co. and Al Sagr Cooperative Insurance, whose share prices surged by 9.96 percent each. 

Other top performers on the benchmark index were Miahona Co. and Makkah Construction and Development Co., as their share prices soared by 7.70 percent and 6.40 percent respectively. 

The worst performer of the day was Al-Baha Investment and Development Co. The firm’s share price slipped 7.69 percent to SR0.12. 

On the announcements front, Lana Medical Co.’s fully owned subsidiary Lana Investment Co. said it acquired a 50 percent stake in Solar Laser Systems Co. and Solar Maccom Co.

Lana said in a statement to Tadawul that the SR6 million deal would be financed from the company’s own resources. 

The statement added that the impact of the deal will be visible in the company’s financial performance from Jan.1, according to the terms and conditions of the agreement. 

Meanwhile, Al-Hokail Academy Specialized Digital Polyclinics Co. announced that it has decided to cancel its initial public offering in Saudi Arabia’s parallel market. 

“This is in order to ensure the interest of investors and shareholders. This comes with the aim of ensuring the best possible conditions for listing, and the company aims with this decision to enhance the confidence of investors and shareholders in the strength and sustainability of its business,” the company said in a statement to Tadawul. 

Additionally, LIVA Insurance Co. said that it received approval from Banque Saudi Fransi to provide insurance services to the bank for one year starting from July 16. 

In a Tadawul statement, the insurance provider said that the deal will provide positive impacts on the company’s financial results for 2024 and 2025. 

Saudi banking sector set for 9% Q2 earnings growth, analyst forecasts 

Updated 4 min 42 sec ago

Saudi banking sector set for 9% Q2 earnings growth, analyst forecasts 

RIYADH: The Saudi banking sector is poised to witness an earnings rise in the second quarter of 2024, with an anticipated 9 percent annual growth, a financial analyst has forecast.

In an interview with Al Ekhbariya, Hussein Al-Attas voiced confidence in the upcoming performance of the banking division, anticipating significant improvements for the petrochemical industry.

He also noted that consulting firms hold a positive outlook for the second quarter’s results, specifically in the banking, communication, and retail divisions. 

However, while optimism prevails for these three sectors, there are divergent opinions regarding the performance of the cement and petrochemical fields.

The analyst indicated that despite differing views, the sector is expected to show improved performance in the second quarter compared to the same period last year, albeit slightly less than the first three months of this year.

He attributed this slower growth to the fact that many companies underwent periodic maintenance closures in the first quarter, impacting their performance.

In Saudi Arabia, amidst its position as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, plans for revenue diversification offer banks opportunities to invest in relatively low-risk public and private sector projects. 

The private sector, comprising around 90 percent of total bank assets, continues to expand due to a robust economy, higher oil prices, and ongoing government support, all contributing to anticipated growth in banks’ asset bases.

Moreover, the Kingdom ranks among the world’s leading petrochemical producers, accounting for approximately 7 percent of global supply, as reported by the International Trade Administration.

The industry has grown substantially, solidifying the nation’s role as a primary exporter of petrochemical resources.

However, the sector grapples with challenges, including an uncertain demand recovery amidst high interest rates and weak macroeconomic fundamentals, elevated shipping costs and logistical challenges from ongoing Red Sea issues, and seasonal factors affecting demand.

Al-Attas forecast that notable improvements are anticipated for companies such as SABIC, Advanced, and Yansab, which saw increased sales volumes and completed their first-quarter maintenance.

The analyst noted that these companies were nearly fully operational in the second quarter. Moreover, there have been improvements in certain petrochemical products despite unstable global demand stemming from geopolitical tensions.

According to Al-Jazira Capital’s forecast report, the sector is expected to experience a 95 percent earnings growth compared to the previous quarter, which saw multiple plant shutdowns. SABIC is projected to lead this increase, benefiting from volume recoveries following the first quarter turnarounds.

Additionally, Tasnee and Advanced are anticipated to return to profitability during this period, contributing to the sector’s overall earnings.

Chinese investors embrace Saudi equities as 2 ETFs debut in Shanghai, Shenzhen

Updated 16 July 2024

Chinese investors embrace Saudi equities as 2 ETFs debut in Shanghai, Shenzhen

RIYADH: Chinese investors showed strong interest in Saudi equities as two new exchange-traded funds focused on the Kingdom’s stocks debuted in Shanghai and Shenzhen.  

The feeder funds, operating under the Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor program, began trading on July 16, with both briefly hitting the 10 percent daily limit on their launch day.    

The first fund, CSOP Saudi Arabia ETF QDII, managed by China Southern Asset Management, is listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange after raising 634 million Chinese yuan ($87 million).   

The second fund, the Huatai-PineBridge managed CSOP Saudi Arabia ETF QDII, started trading on the Shanghai Stock Exchange after raising 590 million Chinese yuan, Bloomberg reported.   

The new offerings mark a significant step in the deepening economic ties between China and Saudi Arabia, allowing mainland investors to diversify their portfolios with exposure to the Kingdom’s stock market.     

This comes as investor relations between the two nations flourish with China becoming the top greenfield foreign direct investor in Saudi Arabia with investments amounting to $16.8 billion in 2023, a 1,020 percent rise from the previous year.      

The two ETFs indirectly invest in the Kingdom’s stock market through the CSOP Saudi Arabia ETF, which was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, marking the first Saudi Arabia-focused ETF in the Asia-Pacific region.   

Following their approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission last month, these funds are designed to facilitate greater international diversification for Chinese investors, particularly in sectors where Saudi Arabia has considerable influence, such as energy and oil.   

“People will pay more attention to Saudi Arabia looking at the energy and financial sector compared with US or Japan investment options,” Mao Wei, chief equity investment officer at China Southern Asset Management Co., told Bloomberg.   

Mainland investors will find it easier to build exposure to Saudi stocks using the funds as they can invest in yuan and find information in Chinese, according to Melody Xian He, deputy chief executive officer at CSOP Asset Management.   

About 20,000 individuals and funds took allocations in the ETFs during an offer period of seven days, she said in an interview.   

As investment links between China and Saudi Arabia deepen, Hong Kong could be “the largest beneficiary of the Saudi China ETF connect program because ETFs that are listed in Saudi Arabia and mainland China could feed back into the Hong Kong ETF,” said Rebecca Sin, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in Hong Kong.   

“The next step of the Saudi China ETF Connect could be that Saudi Arabia asset managers launch a feeder fund,” she added.  

This fund tracks the FTSE Saudi Arabia Index and counts the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund among its major investors.  

The Saudi China ETF program aims to facilitate the cross-listing of funds in both countries and the launch of feeder funds, further cementing financial cooperation between the two nations amidst evolving geopolitical landscapes.  

China’s envoy to KSA meets with Saudi finance vice minister

Updated 16 July 2024

China’s envoy to KSA meets with Saudi finance vice minister

RIYADH: China’s newly appointed ambassador to the Kingdom met with Saudi Arabia’s finance vice minister in Riyadh, signaling that relations between the two countries are set to flourish.

Abdulmuhsen Al-Khalaf welcomed Chang Hua on July 15 at the headquarters of the Ministry of Finance, where the pair discussed joint relations between their nations and ways to enhance them, as well as additional economic and financial topics of common interest, according to the Saudi Finance Ministry.

Diplomatic and economic ties between Saudi Arabia and China have been strengthening in recent years. In November 2023, the Kingdom’s central bank, also known as SAMA, and the People’s Bank of China signed a local currency swap agreement worth $6.93 billion.

Chang Hua arrived in Saudi Arabia on May 10 as the new ambassador of China, replacing Chen Weiqing.

The new envoy, who has previously served as an ambassador to the UAE and Iran, respectively, is now also China’s representative to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Since his arrival, the diplomat has met with a range of Saudi officials to ensure relations between his country and the Kingdom maintain their strength.

He held talks with Saudi Arabia’s Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Fayyad Al-Ruwaili, on July 11, and the officials reviewed bilateral relations and discussed mutual interests, according to a post by the Saudi Ministry of Defense on its X account.  

Retweeting the post, the Chinese diplomat commented: “China and Saudi Arabia – a comprehensive strategic partnership.” 

Moreover, Hua also met with Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, Bandar Alkhorayef. In a post on his X account, he affirmed China’s intent to expand cooperation with Saudi Arabia in industry, mining, and other fields. 

Recently, Saudi Minister of Municipal, Rural Affairs, and Housing, Majid bin Abdullah Al-Hogail, hosted Hua at the ministry’s headquarters in Riyadh. 

During the meeting, attended by officials from both sides, they reviewed bilateral relations and discussed enhancing cooperation in the municipal and housing sectors. 

Al-Hogail emphasized the ministry’s commitment to enhancing strategic partnerships with China in real estate development, contracting, and municipal services. He expressed his aspiration to strengthen and develop the partnership, including forming a joint working team to enhance cooperation. 

Hua expressed pride in the historical diplomatic relations between the Kingdom and China and emphasized his country’s interest in developing commercial and investment relations, and creating joint opportunities in infrastructure and contracting sectors. 

These high-level meetings between Chinese and Saudi officials highlight the deepening ties and shared economic goals of the two nations. With discussions covering finance, defense, industry, and housing, both sides aim to enhance their strategic partnership.