KSA-Based HR Tech Platform Jisr Raises US$30 Million In The Middle East's Largest Series A Round For A SaaS Firm Launched in 2016, Jisr has ensured that over 3,000 clients have combined all their HR operations into its singular HR tech platform.

By Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

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Jisr/Merak Capital
Mohammed Akkari Al-Johi, founder and CEO, Jisr (left) and Abdullah Altamami, CEO, Merak Capital

Saudi Arabia-based human resources (HR) tech platform Jisr has raised US$30 million in a Series A round led by Merak Capital, a Saudi Arabia-based tech-focused investment firm. The investment marks the largest Series A round for a software as a service (SaaS) firm in the Middle East.

Launched in 2016, Jisr has ensured that over 3,000 clients have combined all their HR operations into its singular HR-tech platform. With a vision to help companies realize the optimal potential of human capital, Jisr offers a range of HR solutions -including detailed digital employee profiles, attendance details, payroll transactions, as well as detailed analysis of employee productivity- on one integrated platform.

"At Jisr, we have realized the pain that HR professionals encounter due to having the employees' data scattered at different systems where many of the HR functions happen; which in turn resulted in difficulties and complexities to manage their people," Mohammed Akkari Al-Johi, founder and CEO of Jisr, says. "In our view, HR is a local problem, therefore, we have decided to take the initiative and build our HR tech system by redefining what HR-tech can do."

Mohammed Akkari Al-Johi, founder and CEO, Jisr. Source: Jisr

But while Jisr has managed to directly address many of the existing issues plaguing the HR sector, Al-Johi is careful not to get too ahead of himself yet. "Among 600,000 organizations in Saudi Arabia, less than 5% use a digital solution to manage their most important assets (people), yet the digital transformation in the Kingdom has been advancing rapidly; there are as we can see lots of portals and systems," he says. "Additionally, local labor laws and systems have been recently evolving. We are proud to say that Jisr has been the pioneer in integrating all these portals, but we still have a roadmap to cover."

With a mammoth amount of funding now at Jisr's disposal, Al-Johi remains confident that his enterprise will continue to create impact. "Supporting Jisr's mission to help organizations manage their most important asset -people- this investment will maximize Jisr's ability to deliver its best-in-class, suits of products serving small and mid-size organizations," Al-Jo adds. "Moreover, it enables Jisr to accelerate its investment in product innovation and development, expand into new geographies, and increasingly serve customers at a larger scale as it continues to gain market share in the MENA region."

That confidence appears to be reflected by Jisr's investors too. Indeed, when asked what led to Merak Capital agreeing to invest a large sum, CEO Abdullah Altamami attributes it to, quite simply, the business approach adopted by Jisr. "Being a successful SaaS company is an ideal component to any technology investment, but when that SaaS company is leading in localization, it makes it an extremely unique and attractive investment," Altamami says.

Related: "We Got Funded!" Dubai-Based HR-Tech Platform Alfii Raises US$2.5 Million In A Pre-Seed Funding Round

Abdullah Altamami, CEO, Merak Capital. Source: Merak Capital

And even as startup funding continues to dry up within the region, Altamami urges entrepreneurs to keep their focus fixed on what is within their control. "Make sure to build a real business, and not just a company or a solution," he says. "Building a business that generates real returns is the ultimate target for any investor. Do that and investments will come."

As for Jisr, Al-Johi hopes that his enterprise's successful funding journey could set a precedent for other tech startups in Saudi Arabia and the wider region. "The SaaS industry is still at an early stage here, so it is time for homegrown SaaS startups who are equipped with their deep understanding of the users to rise," Al-Johi says. "I think this investment and other recent investments for local SaaS startups, along with the local talent, could pave the way towards innovation with the mindset of global thinking and local implementation."

Related: PepsiCo Middle East CEO Aamer Sheikh Sounds Off On The Six Finalists Of The 2023 Greenhouse Accelerator Program: MENA Sustainability Edition
Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Features Writer, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Writer at Entrepreneur Middle East.

She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and was also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program.

Ahmed is keen on pursuing and writing stories on people-centric leadership, female-owned startups, and entrepreneurs who've beaten significant odds to realize their goals.

A bibliophile, chai addict, and photography enthusiast, she can be often found (animatedly) talking about Kdramas, BTS, cricket, novels, and comic book films.

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