SVC emerges as bedrock firm in Saudi Arabia’s investment push

The government-supported investor has backed 40 funds that have in turn invested in over 700 startups and SMEs

Riyadh skyline. The city is the fastest-growing startup hub in the region. (Getty Images)

Saudi Venture Capital Co. is emerging as the driving force behind Saudi Arabia’s meteoric rise in VC investing. For the first time, the kingdom clinched the top spot last year as the most active investor in the MENA region, a sudden challenger to more mature ecosystems in the UAE and Egypt. VC capital pouring into Saudi startups has surged over 20x between 2018 – the year SVC was formed with backing from the National Development Fund – and 2023, as more deals have been done and check sizes have grown. 

A new report from SVC shows it has invested in 40 funds that have in turn invested in over 700 startups and SMEs so far. Total committed investments have reached over $700 million since its inception and total investments including partners are estimated at $3.6 billion. “This is only the beginning,” Dr. Nabeel Koshak, the firm’s CEO, said in the report. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sees startups and entrepreneurship as linchpins of his economic diversification drive under the banner of Vision 2030, drivers of innovation and job creation. 

SVC is on the rise amid a global slowdown in private capital investing. “Q1 was in no way ecstatic,” Philip Bahoshy, CEO of funding data platform Magnitt, said this week. “Though there were a few big wins, our latest numbers report a decline in almost every metric.” Bahoshy will host a public meeting next week with Sharif El-Badawi, CEO of Dubai Future District Fund, to discuss the state of venture capital in the region and what may lieahead for the rest of the year. 

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