We Got Funded: E-Learning Platform Almentor.net Raises US$4.5 Million In A Series A Round
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E-learning in the MENA region has gained a boost as online learning and personal development platform Almentor raised US$4.5 million in a Series A round led by Egypt-based VC firm Sawari Ventures, and joined by Egypt Ventures, Endure Capital, and angel investor Mohamed El Amin. Founded in 2016 by co-founders Ihab Fikry, Ibrahim Kamel, Hesham Heikal, Husni Khuffash, and Abdelrhman Fahmy, the online video marketplace for e-learning and professional business development was launched for Arab self-learners to reach their best potential.
Catering to the Arabic-speaking audience across 56 countries around the world, Almentor offers free crash courses and paid full tracks for organizations and individuals on different topics including entrepreneurship, soft skills, parental and relationship management, sales and marketing, business management, humanities, health and fitness, technology and more. CEO and co-founder Fikry points out that compared to the competitors, Almentor has a distinct USP: “We have the edge of understanding our region- the culture of both learners and mentors. So, we handpick the right mentors, and go to the market with the most efficient means (digitally and face-to-face) to explain to new learners the benefits of personal development.”
Commenting on the funds raised, Fikry says, “Almentor has the chance to benefit from the collective experiences of its investors, not only from the financial and funding viewpoints, but also in terms of business development and critical thinking as well.” One of the investors, Sawari Ventures Partner Wael Amin, believes that the online professional development platform is taking on a significant opportunity in the region, “[They] have put together a capable management team and have quickly established themselves as the market leader when it comes to going after this opportunity.”
The capital infusion comes at an opportune time, with Fikry saying the funds are set to be used for content production, as well as for enhancing the platform’s tech to maintain momentum. He adds that marketing is also critical, not just as a startup, but to raise awareness on the value of online continuous learning, as well as investing in finding the right talent, as the startup continues to develop their business. For ‘treps in the fundraising phase, Fikry advises them to remember to spend their capital right, to focus on your customers instead of their competitors, and to prioritize on making their revenue stream work. “Raising money is only a step in your journey; making profits with high margins are the real success of your company.”
Wael Amin, Partner, Sawari Ventures
In terms of boosting Almentor’s growth, Fikry says he’d like to see more support from government entities and organizations to sponsor courses and program tracks. “The more support we get… the more we reach to learners across the region,” he explains. “This is already happening in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain.” The startup is also seeking mega-scale initiatives to reach their goal of having 25 million Arab learners on the platform. “But we can’t wait until the education systems and policies are reformed across the region; with our accessibility and scalability, we can make a huge impact in developing our [people’s education] with what we provide right now.”
Ihab Fikry, co-founder and CEO, Almentor
What is the online learning industry landscape like in the MENA region?
“Cost effectiveness in the continuous learning and training space is definitely an issue in this part of the world. But infrastructure is improving regarding the availability of online payment and internet speed. Mindsets are moving towards enhancing knowledge and skills through videos, which we can see with the uptake of Netflix and YouTube in the region. And so, it’s here where we find opportunity. We start any [program] track with the video content to capitalize on this existing habit, then we encourage our learners to interact with their mentors, download materials and go through quizzes and exams to get the best out our offered learning experience.”