Just a day after Saudi Telecom Co (STC) agreed to pick up a 10 per cent stake in ride-sharing app Careem worth $100 million (Dh367 million), Careem announced today a first close in its $500-million funding round. The $350-million investment is co-led by Rakuten, and STC, the largest telecom operator in the Middle East. New and existing investors include Abraaj Group, Al Tayyar Group, Beco Capital, El Sewedy Investments, Endure Capital, Lumia Capital, SQM Frontier and Wamda Capital among others.
Careem was established in 2012 and now operates in 47 cities across 11 countries. The fund-raising was supported by Credit Suisse and is one of the largest for a technology company in the region’s history.
The funds are said to be a part of Careem’s plans to expand its transport services through current markets in Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. The company also plans to expand create one million jobs in the region by 2018. It currently has 150,000 drivers, whom it calls Captains, working for the company.
“We are inspired and humbled to work with world class strategic partners such as Rakuten and STC,” said Mudassir Sheikha, Co-founder and CEO of Careem. “They not only bring significant institutional backing for Careem’s new horizons, but also global technology leadership and deep local experience bringing us closer to achieving our mission of improving the lives of everyone in the region.”