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Rocket-Backed Startup Scores Largest Funding in Iraq History

·2-min read

(Bloomberg) -- A three-month old startup co-founded by a McKinsey & Co. alumnus said it completed what could be the largest funding round ever in Iraq’s nascent technology sector.

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Baly, which describes itself as Iraq’s first super-app and is backed by German tech incubator Rocket Internet SE, offers ride-hailing in Baghdad and is in the process of adding new services like food and grocery delivery. It raised $10.5 million in seed funding from Kingsway Capital, MSA Capital, Global Founders Capital, Vostok Ventures, Majid Al Futtaim and March Holding.

The funds will be used to expand the app across the country and bankroll the introduction of other offerings including food delivery, according to a statement.

Home to 40 million people and boasting smartphone penetration of over 90% among those aged 17-40, Iraq is ripe for a digital shake-up, said Baly’s managing director, Matteo Mantovani.

After previously working for nearly three years at McKinsey in the United Arab Emirates, Mantovani co-founded the company with Munqith Alazzawi, whose previous stints included time as a consultant at Rocket Internet, according to their LinkedIn accounts.

“With a young, urbanized population, it is the perfect place to revolutionize the economy through digital services,” Mantovani said.

In the Middle East, the bulk of startup activity centers on the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Iraq rarely sees any venture capital deals but there are some signs of a small sector developing.

E-commerce firm Miswag has raised nearly $3 million since 2019 and a number of investors began a new company called Iraq Ventures Partners last year. Euphrates Advisors LLC launched an Iraq-focused venture fund last year that invested in Miswag and food delivery app Alsaree3.

(Updates with Euphrates Advisors venture fund in final paragraph.)

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