350 MENA startups near unicorn status by 2030

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is poised to become a hub for startups with a valuation of over $1 billion. Consulting firm Redseer predicts that by 2030, the region will have more than 300 unicorns and “soonicorns” – startups that are forecast to reach that valuation. Currently, there are only six unicorns in the MENA region. According to Redseer, the anticipated high-performing startups and scaleups will center on sectors such as technology, internet, e-commerce, financial services and fintech, and consumer services.

Government initiatives and regulation across the region, coupled with the rise of post-pandemic digital economy sectors such as HealthTech, EdTech and FinTech, will unlock investments and drive growth, said Sandeep Ganediwalla, Managing Partner at Redseer in the Middle East. Many of the new unicorns and soonicorns will likely seek IPOs as companies grow beyond funding requirements typically offered by venture capitalists and early-stage private equity funds.

Redseer expects young companies to form an increasing share of the MENA’s public listings market, which saw 51 IPOs in 2022, raising around $22 billion. EY’s recent report also anticipates major IPOs in the region this year, with some companies having already announced their plans to go public in 2023.

Currently, the largest startups to surpass a $1 billion value in the MENA region include ride-hailing service Careem, cloud-kitchen platform Kitopi, ride-sharing platform Swvl and Egyptian Fintech leader Fawry. While Careem was purchased by Uber for $3.1 billion in 2020, the latter three have all successfully completed IPOs. The startup, Swvl, however, has been facing financial issues, with a 96% drop in stock value in less than a year since its IPO and 32% of its workforce being laid off in May 2022.

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