Dubai / Emirates Business
Careem, the leading ride-hailing service in the Middle East and North Africa, announced a first close in its $500 million funding round. The investment of $350 million is co-led by Rakuten, Inc., a global leader in internet services and innovation headquartered in Japan, and Saudi Telecom Company (‘STC’), the largest telecom operator in the Middle East. New and existing investors include Abraaj Group, Al Tayyar Group, Beco Capital, El Sewedy Investments, Endure Capital, Lumia Capital, SQM Frontier and Wamda Capital among others. Rakuten executive and head of ride-sharing and fintech investments, Oskar Mielczarek de la Miel, and an STC Group executive will also join Careem’s Board of Directors.
A local company established in 2012, Careem now operates in 47 cities across 11 countries and hosts over 6 million users and 150,000 Captains (drivers) in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region. The fundraise, supported by Credit Suisse, is one of the largest for a technology company in the Middle East’s history and a strong indicator of Careem’s ambitious vision. The funds will scale up Careem’s transport services in existing and new markets, accelerate innovation across its platform of high-frequency transactions, and help Careem achieve its goal of creating one million jobs in the region by 2018.
“We are inspired and humbled to work with world class strategic partners like Rakuten and STC” said Mudassir Sheikha, co-founder and CEO of Careem. “They not only bring significant institutional backing for Careem’s new horizons, but also global technology leadership and deep local experience bringing us closer to achieving our mission of improving the lives of everyone in the region.”
“The MENA region has a growing, connected, urban population with great potential for ride hailing and other e-commerce services,” said Oskar Mielczarek de la Miel, Executive Officer at Rakuten. “This investment directly aligns with Rakuten’s vision for global innovation as Careem has demonstrated its ability to scale to one of the largest shared economy platforms in the region.
“We are excited to continue a strategic partnership that began in 2013 through STC Ventures’ first investment in Careem, and help build a mobility platform across the MENA region,” said Dr. Khaled Biyari, CEO of STC. “Our investment is a clear bet on the future of mobility, strategic adjacencies, and Careem’s technology leadership in the region.”