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Sanabil Investments quietly emerges as top growth-stage investor in Saudi startups
In the last twelve months, three Saudi startups have raised $100 million or more. There's one thing common in all these deals: Sanabil Investments, a Public Investment Fund-subsidiary being the lead (or co-lead) investor.
The firm has been investing in international startups and funds for a long time but has become active in the regional ecosystem in the last two years - and has quickly emerged as the top growth-stage investor in Saudi startups.
It has never been easy for Middle Eastern startups to raise large growth-stage rounds. With Sanabil getting behind Saudi startups, they have an unfair advantage over their regional rivals.
All these rounds include big international names like SoftBank, Prosus, and Coatue but having a local anchor (which also happens to be an investor in some of the leading VC funds of the world) apparently helps a great deal.
The investments at Sanabil are led by Hani Enaya who was previously with STV and Riyad Taqnia Fund. He had joined the PIF unit in 2020.
The firm interestingly is also playing its part in development of the early-stage startup ecosystem in Saudi mainly through its partnership 500 Startups. The two firms have launched an accelerator program that has funded tens of startups from the region with $100,000 cheques in the last two years.
(Trukker is also a notable deal in 2022 from Saudi. It had raised $96 million Series B led by ADQ and STV in February. Started in UAE, it later moved its HQ to Riyadh. Another notable Saudi deal from the last twelve months in Sary's Series C. No prizes for guessing who led it.)