Startups in various regions are making a significant impact on the venture landscape

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In spite of a global decrease in the availability of venture funds, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region remains resilient, with early-stage startups in the region receiving substantial investments.

Zest Equity, a fintech company based in the UAE, has secured $3.8 million in a seed funding round led by Middle East Venture Partners. This round also saw participation from the Dubai Future District Fund and DASH Ventures.

Established in 2021 by entrepreneurs Rawan Baddour and Zuhair Shamma, Zest Equity provides a platform that simplifies the process of selling secondary shares for founders and venture capitalists. Rawan Baddour mentioned that Zest was created with a vision to enhance communication, transparency, and standardization in private market transactions. The core focus of Zest is to create a user-friendly and comprehensive tool that reduces the costs and complexities associated with traditional private market transactions. Their platform digitalizes the transaction process, making it easier for existing stakeholders, founders, investors, and employees of private companies to transact in a pre-approved and transparent manner.

The recently injected capital will be used to support Zest Equity’s expansion plans, with the startup targeting emerging markets in North Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Turkey.

Sharif El-Badawi, CEO of the DFDF, praised Zest Equity’s progress, highlighting the importance of liquidity and the infrastructure to generate it for the growing startup ecosystem in the region.

Zest Equity’s solution has garnered the trust of Walid Mansour, co-CEO of MEVP, who emphasized the region’s need for the company’s expanding solution.

Following this latest funding round, Zest Equity’s total funding raised now amounts to $5.7 million.

UAE’s Dharma secures $4.7m to enhance travel experiences

UAE-based travel management platform Dharma has completed a $4.7 million pre-series A funding round by Convivialite Ventures, as well as from prominent investors including FJ Labs, Equinox, Stephen Ross, and Shorooq Partners.  

Dharma, founded in 2018 by Nisma Benani, Charaf El Mansouri, and Leah Howe, distinguishes itself in the travel market by allowing travelers to craft their itineraries around experiences hosted by renowned personalities from various fields — be it a celebrated chef, an acclaimed surfer, or a popular fitness instructor.

“Our core conviction is that the future of travel is passion-based,” El-Mansouri said, he added “If for the past 50 years, people have traveled for the where, the next 50 years, people will travel for the why. That’s the future Dharma is enabling.” With the fresh capital injection, the company is poised to broaden its horizon. Dharma aims to introduce travelers to an array of multi-day experiences spanning diverse verticals, encompassing culinary, sports, fashion, and lifestyle tourism.

“Our goal is to continue attracting and retaining the most inspiring people and brands in the world by enabling them to create and host authentic travel experiences for their communities,” Benani said. Feras El Hajjar

“Our mission is to transform the lives of legal professionals for the better and with every step App4Legal takes in today’s ever demanding and changing legal industry”.

Feras El-Hajjar, App4Legal founder

The startup’s journey has been characterized by strong financial support, reflecting confidence in its innovative approach to the travel industry. Last year, Dharma secured $3.5 million in funding, with Convivialite Ventures leading the way, supported by Abu Dhabi’s Hub71. In total, Dharma has raised an impressive $10 million through its fundraising efforts.

App4Legal, a legal technology company based in the UAE, has secured a substantial investment in the seven-figure range in a funding round led by the respected Aditum Ventures in the region.

Founded in 2015 by Feras El-Hajjar, App4Legal has established itself as a leader in legal practice management and contract lifecycle management. El-Hajjar stated that their mission is to improve the lives of legal professionals by prioritizing constant innovation, gaining the trust of clients, and changing the perception of the legal industry.

With a diverse portfolio catering to various industries and jurisdictions, the company serves over 1,400 organizations, including banks, telecommunications companies, airlines, and government bodies.

The recent injection of capital will support App4Legal’s innovation efforts, particularly in the area of artificial intelligence-driven solutions. It will also accelerate the company’s expansion plans in the European market, creating new opportunities for collaboration.

Egypt’s insurance technology firm, Amenli, has secured $1 million in its most recent equity funding round, with Alter Global leading the way and Digital Venture Partners, the corporate venture capital arm of Qatar Insurance Corporation, also participating in the funding initiative.

Established in 2020 by Adham Nauman, Omar Ezz El-Din, and Shady El-Tohfa, Amenli has made a notable impact in the insurance sector by offering personalized insurance plans tailored to individuals, families, and small and medium-sized enterprises.

This fresh infusion of capital will strengthen Amenli’s operations on multiple fronts. The company intends to use the funds to expand its team, enhance its diverse product offerings, and establish a stronger brand presence in the competitive market.


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