Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 February 2020

Egypt's health-tech start-up Vezeeta raises $40 million to finance expansion

Abu Dhabi's alternative asset management firm Gulf Capital led the Series D financing round

Amir Barsoum, the founder and chief executive of Vezeeta. The Egyptian healthcare app operates in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon. Courtesy of Vezeeta
Amir Barsoum, the founder and chief executive of Vezeeta. The Egyptian healthcare app operates in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon. Courtesy of Vezeeta

Egyptian start-up Vezeeta said it raised $40 million (Dh147m) in its latest funding round, led by Abu Dhabi-based alternative asset management firm Gulf Capital, to finance expansion plans.

The Series D funding round also received backing from existing investor Riyadh-based Saudi Technology Ventures (STV), who led the health-tech firm's Series C round in September 2018, Vezeeta said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Building a global healthcare powerhouse requires a strong investor base to support and drive continuous innovation and disruptive solutions. Gulf Capital provides us the perfect synergy for our future plans to diversify and expand our product portfolio on a global scale,” said Amir Barsoum, founder and chief executive of Vezeeta. "We will continue to cater to local health-related pains while expanding our product portfolio to many more markets."

In January, Vezeeta told The National it is seeking financing for expansion to new markets in Africa and South East Asia, boosting research and development (R&D) and introducing new products. The latest funding round brings total investments into Vezeeta to $63m since its inception in 2012.

Egypt ranked as the top country with the most start-up investment deals closed in 2019 in the Middle East and North Africa, attracting 25 per cent of the 564 sealed deals, according to a January report by start-up data platform Magnitt. The North African nation was second, after the UAE, in terms of deal values, attracting 14 per cent of the $704m in total funding.

Vezeeta, an app that allows users to search for doctors by location and specialty before booking appointments in real-time, currently operates in 50 cities across Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon. Users have booked four million annual appointments, tripling year on year.

Abu Dhabi-based Gulf Capital said its latest capital funding of Vezeeta is its sixth investment in the technology sector as it seeks to capitalise on the fast-growing "new economy" in the Middle East.

"We believe that, with the right financial and operational support provided by the exceptional set of investors around the table, Amir and his team can scale up Vezeeta rapidly and position the company as the undisputed leader in the healthcare technology sector in the region," said Karim El Solh, chief executive of Gulf Capital.

This year, Vezeeta’s growth plans include rolling out its new digital platforms of ePharmacy and Tele-health across its existing footprint and new markets, it said in the statement.

The ePharmacy platform will offer services such as auto-refill services, medication reminders, same-day deliveries and hassle-free secure online payments to all users, among other healthcare services,” said Maha Melhem, vice-president of ePharmacy.

“Medications alone account for 47 per cent of the private healthcare opportunity, making ePharmacy a very exciting product,” she said. “By providing a fully digitized pharmaceutical experience, we are able to eliminate the many middlemen that not only slow down the process but also hinder patients’ experience."

STV, which backed Vezeeta in an earlier funding round in 2018, said the start-up has since made "incredible" progress in the kingdom.

"The next chapter for Vezeeta holds an even bigger opportunity, and we’re excited to see Vezeeta continue its growth in Saudi where it has become the undisputed market leader and to tackle vertical healthcare opportunities head-on,” Ahmad AlNaimi, senior principal at STV, said.

Updated: February 11, 2020 03:06 PM

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