compareit4me Group, which operates finance comparison websites across the Middle East, has raised $3 million in VC funding.
The funding was led by STC Ventures, the VC arm of Saudi Telecom, with backing from Wamda Capital, which is headed up by Aramex founder Fadi Ghandour, and Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority completing the investment group.
Currently in seven countries, (as compareit4me.com in the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait and under the name of amwalak.com in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Lebanon), the websites help users find and compare financial products including personal loans, credit cards and bank accounts.
Already the largest finance comparison site in the region, compareit4me said it plans to use the funding to continue its rapid expansion with the brand launching in at least three more countries in 2015.
Jon Richards, CEO of compareit4me Group commented: “We are delighted to have such an amazing lineup of investors join the company. They are some of the most influential VCs in the Middle East and each will bring more than just money to the table. All three are strategically important to us; STC will support our KSA expansion, Dubai Silicon Oasis gives us local support and access to untapped sectors, and Wamda brings a wealth of regional know-how, networks and experience. All three are seasoned, value-add VC investors and have a successful track record in helping tech startups scale in the region, which will no doubt help us hugely accelerate our current growth.’’
The investment comes off the back of an impressive 12 months for compareit4me which was named ‘Best Finance Comparison Site in the UAE’ at the International Finance Magazine Awards, and ‘Best Comparison Site in the Middle East’ by Global Banking and Finance Review. It also comes at a critical time in the growth of the region’s technology sector which is supported by strong consumer demand for content, e-commerce and digital services as a whole.
Despite the comparison industry in the Middle East being still nascent, compareit4me already generates more than 45,000 finance applications per month, more than any other site in the region. Samer Chehab, COO of compareit4me Group explained: “Comparing products is a win-win for banks and consumers alike. Not only does it ensure you get the most compatible products for your lifestyle, it also ensures you get them at the lowest rate. Our users save thousands of dollars each year and we want to ensure that continues to be quick and easy, while giving users all the information they need to make important financial decisions.’’
2015 has been a big year for tech startups in the Middle East, with more money being invested than ever before. Additionally, the investment community around the world has its eyes on financial technology and the role it has to play in financial education and inclusion, something compareit4me looks to take advantage of as it grows.
Fadi Ghandour, founder of Aramex and managing partner of Wamda Capital, said: “compareit4me is offering a service that is very much in demand in the region and we believe that the company is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the opportunity in the market. Wamda Capital is excited to be part of the compareit4me story and we have big hopes for its success.”
compareit4me raised an initial round of angel funding from Mulverhill Associates, run by former Abraaj Capital director Jonathan Hall, in March 2014. With the latest round of VC funding, the website is well geared to expand more rapidly. Richards explains: “We have managed to deliver exceptionally strong growth in a short space of time. With limited funding we have had to bootstrap our way to every milestone but the investment will finally allow us to invest more significantly in growing the brand and improving our technology; something that will be good for our users and also the banks we work with.’’
compareit4me.com is a UAE-based finance comparison group which was launched in 2011. compareit4me and its sister site Amwalak.com offer its users a quick and easy way to compare finance products and services from the leading banks in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt and Lebanon.
About STC Ventures
STC Ventures is an independently managed venture capital fund backed by Saudi Telecom, the largest telecommunications company in MENA. STC Ventures’ goal is to empower entrepreneurs to create market leading technology businesses across the GCC, wider MENA region and beyond.
About Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority
Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority is a wholly-owned entity of the Dubai Government. Dubai Silicon Oasis operates as a free zone technology park for the semiconductor, microelectronic and other high technology-based companies looking to set up their regional headquarters and research and development facilities in the Middle East and Africa region.
About Wamda Capital
Founded by Fadi Ghandour, founder of Aramex and long time angel investor, Wamda Capital is a leading regional Venture Capital Firm focused on deploying growth capital in the Middle East and North Africa’s leading entrepreneur led technology companies.