Careem, the ride-hailing service in the Middle East and North Africa has raised $500 million, of which $350 million is co-led by Rakuten and Saudi Telecom Company (“STC”), the largest telecom operator in the Middle East with participation from the Abraaj Group, Al Tayyar Group, Beco Capital, El Sewedy Investments, Endure Capital, Lumia Capital, SQM Frontier and Wamda Capital among others.
Rakuten executive and head of ride-sharing and fintech investments, Oskar Mielczarek de la Miel, and an STC Group executive will also join Careem’s Board of Directors.
“We are inspired and humbled to work with world class strategic partners like 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.”
Careem will use the funds to scale its transport services in existing and new markets, accelerate innovation across its platform of high-frequency transactions, and help it achieve its goal of creating one million jobs in the region by 2018
Established in 2012, Careem now operates in 47 cities across 11 countries and hosts over 6 million users and 150,000 drivers in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region. Saudi Telecom will take a 10 percent stake in the company.
“We are excited to continue a strategic partnership that began in 2013 through STC Ventures’ first investment in Careem, and help build a mobility platform across the MENA region,” said Dr. Khaled Biyari, CEO of STC. “Our investment is a clear bet on the future of mobility, strategic adjacencies, and Careem’s technology leadership in the region.”
In July this year, Careem announced a new research and development (R&D) strategy and plans for global expansion. The firm said over the next five years, it will invest $100M in R&D, which includes growing its team in UAE and Pakistan, and opening new R&D centers in Egypt and Germany. The investment will accelerate innovation in transportation-related technology infrastructure for the region and keep CAREEM at the forefront of this dynamic new industry.
“The MENA region has a growing, connected, urban population with great potential for ride hailing and other e-commerce services,” said Oskar Mielczarek de la Miel, Executive Officer at Rakuten. “This investment directly aligns with Rakuten’s vision for global innovation as Careem has demonstrated its ability to scale to one of the largest shared economy platforms in the region, and to accelerate the adoption of new transit solutions.