Start-up companies across North Africa and the Middle East (MENA), despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, have realised venture capital investment in 2020 to the tune of US$ 1 billion.

Although the overall number of investment deals has dropped in 2020, the appetite for investment has not been cooled by Covid, the level of investment exceeded expectations for the region. Key industries that have benefitted from this record-breaking level of investment are financial technology, eCommerce, and healthcare. Healthcare, in particular, saw an incredible rise in investment, rising by 280% in 2020 when compared with 2019 (although the overall investment in this sector was the lowest of the three, at $72 million). 

The majority of investment landed in the UAE, capturing over half of the investment across the region, exemplified in digital healthcare company Vezeeta, who secured a $40 injection after moving their headquarters to Dubai early last year. Turkey also saw a significant boost to funding, although only a third of the region’s capital ended up in the continent-spanning country, it saw investments in innovators increase by 182%.

The data suggests investors are less willing to expose themselves to risk on companies that are yet to bring a product to market as the majority of investment was in companies who have already seen some success and made progress, rather than early-stage ventures. This could be viewed as a more cautious approach, but still indicate that the outlook is promising for high-tech companies in the MENA region.

 and instead focused on those with a promising outlook for rapid growth. Given the impact the global economy has seen from Covid-19 and the many countries facing a harsh recession, this change of tactics could be seen as a more cautious approach from investors.

If the Healthcare technology industry can continue realise success through innovation and in 2020 with all of its challenges, then 2021should shape up to be equally exciting.