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Unlocking Human Potential In The KSA Startup Ecosystem Saudi Arabia is already the most bustling startup market in the region, with thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises. However, the country's population of over 36 million represents a vast reservoir of untapped potential.

By Adwa AlDakheel

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I have always been curious and ambitious, defying the stereotype that people can only be one thing in life. Today, as an entrepreneur, author, self-taught musician, certified pilot, master diver, and squash champion, I've proven that belief in oneself can lead to incredible achievements. However, what excites me more than my accomplishments is enabling others to maximize their abilities and pursue their dreams- to support them, to free their minds, and to give them the opportunity to develop their skillset.

Falak Investment Hub was born out of my desire to help others realize their potential and become innovators and disruptors. Our mission is to identify aspiring entrepreneurs, equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge, and empower them to grow and succeed. We strive to nurture these individuals into successful founders, with the ultimate aim of creating the next generation of MENA's unicorns. It is well known, and according to several studies, that startups in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the wider MENA region face many challenges. This includes limited access to funding, high setup fees, difficulty recruiting talent, inefficient cash flow management, lack of access to market information, and absence of guidance and mentorship.

Saudi Arabia is already the most bustling startup market in the region, with thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises. However, the country's population of over 36 million represents a vast reservoir of untapped potential. With about 70% of the population under 30 years old, the innovation potential is at its peak. Falak Investment Hub recognizes this opportunity, and it aims to unlock the potential of Arab youth by nurturing their entrepreneurial spirit. We believe startups open up opportunities for innovative ideas to flourish. They also create jobs, contribute to economic growth, and attract investments, like-minded visionaries, and disruptors. With a million startups operating across the Kingdom, the startup ecosystem in Saudi Arabia surpassed a value of US$11 billion in 2022. Over the past years, the Saudi government has introduced a variety of initiatives across key economic sectors as part of its Vision 2030 strategy. These focused on discovering new markets, promoting a diversified economy, supporting innovation, and creating a favorable environment for many sectors to thrive in and attract investments.

Today, the economy of Saudi Arabia is the largest in the Middle East, and the 18th largest in the world. In 2022, Saudi Arabia witnessed an economic growth of 8.7%, the highest in the region, according to a report by the International Monetary Fund. According to Fitch Solutions, the economy will see an extra 3.3% growth by the end of the year 2023. Moreover, startups in Saudi Arabia saw a 72% annual increase in venture capital funding in 2022, reaching close to $1 billion across 144 deals, according to a report by MAGNiTT.

Related: Why Saudi Arabia Is Being Increasingly Seen As The Place To Be To Start A Business In The Middle East

In 2021, the country saw a 54% increase in startup funding deals, representing 23% of all MENA funding. The e-commerce sector is another crucial aspect to consider, having experienced rapid growth in recent years, and it's emerging as a key contributor to Saudi Arabia's economic expansion. The country is now the 27th largest e-commerce market globally, with a projected value set to exceed $13 billion by 2025. The technology sector raised about $972 million in 2022, and LEAP 2023, the country's largest tech summit, announced more than $9 billion in investments to support technology startups. This highlights the significant potential of the startup ecosystem, while also demonstrating investors' confidence in Saudi entrepreneurs, and the country's leadership as well. Falak is thus empowering the next generation of changemakers. We fund founders through our investment-backed business acceleration program that launched in 2018 and is now ranked as the #1 business acceleration program in the country.

Furthermore, we connect founders with investors and serve as a Saudi launchpad, encouraging international entrepreneurs to establish a presence in the Kingdom, and become a part of one of the world's largest emerging markets. Enabling entrepreneurs is not possible without enabling investors, which is why we organize educational workshops for our angel investors to enhance their capacity and aid them in making informed investment decisions. We also support market players and governmental entities in becoming an integral part of the broader ecosystem by offering technical assistance to create and develop venture capital and investment programs.

Over the last four years, Falak Investment Hub has invested about $4 million to support and enable startups, and as a result, our portfolio of startups is valued at $250 million. In addition, we've announced over $95 million in investments via our angel network. At the end of the day, our objective is to establish a dynamic environment that fuels innovation and economic growth. It is exciting for us to see the ecosystem's rapid expansion, and we are eager to continue our efforts to help it thrive even more.

Related: Bringing The World To Saudi: A New Entrepreneur Middle East Report Looks Into Saudi Arabia's US$1 Trillion Investment In The Tourism Industry

Adwa AlDakheel is the founder and CEO of Falak Investment Hub.

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