CAIRO: Wafeq, a UAE-based financial software company targeting small and medium enterprises (SMEs), raised $3 million ($1 = 0.92 euros) in a fundraising round led by Raed Ventures with participation from Wamda Capital, to strengthen its presence in Saudi Arabia and expand to Egypt.
Launched in 2019, Wafeq is a fintech startup that provides easy-to-use software to empower accounting and financing activities for SMEs.
In an exclusive interview with Arabic newsNadim Alameddine, founder and CEO of Wafeq, mentions that Saudi Arabia was the most important market for the company.
“Thus, we want to strengthen our growth here to continue to offer our solutions to SMEs in the Kingdom. We already have some of the most successful SMEs and startups among our clients, and as we grow here, we will continue to help companies comply with accounting rules,” he says.
Designed to meet the finance and accounting needs of SMEs in the region, Wafeq software is used by more than 5,000 entrepreneurs and professional accountants who process more than $117 million in monthly invoices.
“Our platform is used by leading startups and SMEs from a wide range of industries, including outsourcing, food and beverage, e-commerce and retail, among others,” explains Mr. Alameddine.
SMEs make up over 98% of all businesses in Saudi Arabia, 90% in Egypt and 94% in the United Arab Emirates, giving Wafeq a large market to operate its activities.
In addition, the digitization of accounting practices in the three markets is undergoing significant change with the introduction of mandatory electronic invoicing and digital reporting.
“Saudi Arabia has one of the most transparent and business-friendly accounting practices in the region, established by the Zakat, Tax and Customs authorities, also known as Zatca”, says Mr Alameddine.
In December 2021, Zatca announced that all taxpayers will be required to issue electronic invoices using a compliant government system, and split the implementation into two phases.
In the first phase, taxpayers had to issue electronic invoices and familiarize themselves with the implementation of the new system. In the second phase, which is expected to be implemented in July 2023, taxpayers whose taxable income exceeds 500 million Saudi riyals (1 riyal = 0.25 euros) will be required to integrate their electronic invoicing systems to the Fatoorah government platform.
“SMEs are still using manual processes or old software that is not compatible with local accounting requirements. Our strategy in Saudi Arabia will be to develop more localized functionality, ensure a successful Zatca phase 2 implementation and bring our e-invoice API- solutions for several companies in the country,” he continues.
Wafeq initially focused on startups and acquired clients in leading companies such as Emirati fintech Tabby, Saudi fintech Lean Technologies, Dubai fintech DAPI, Emirati mobility-tech Fenix and Saudi fintech PiFlow, among others.
Opportunities in Egypt
The company plans to use the funds raised to expand its current presence in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as to support its entry into Egypt.
According to Mr. Alameddine, while Egypt has the highest percentage of SMEs, businesses have very limited access to technology solutions that can support their operations.
“From a political perspective, Egypt is introducing requirements such as e-invoicing and soon e-receipts for businesses, and this is where Wafeq will have a positive impact. By entering Egypt, we will not only seek to acquire new customers, but also to create jobs locally,” he emphasizes.
Wafeq’s standalone e-invoicing API will play an important role in its expansion into Egypt. It enables startups and businesses to set up reliable third-party electronic invoicing and stay compliant.
“With the backing of Raed Ventures and Wamda Capital, we look forward to entering Egypt while building our presence in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” said Mr. Alameddine.
Talal Alasmari, founding partner of Raed Ventures, believes that Wafeq solves a problem that affects thousands of companies in the region.
“The digitization of accounting practices will truly transform the way SMEs in the region operate, increasing operational transparency, realizing efficiency and contributing to economic growth,” says Alasmari.
The company operates a software-as-a-service business model that complements its strategy of making software easy and affordable for businesses to use.
“It is free to sign up for Wafeq, and customers starting a business can choose to use our basic package. For customers with more complex needs, we offer a range of pricing options that take into account their needs, billing volume and other factors,” says Alameddine.
Raed Ventures is a venture capital firm founded in 2015 in Dammam, Saudi Arabia that focuses on emerging startups and has invested in notable companies such as SWVL, Tabby and Trella.
Founded in the UAE in 2014, Wamda Capital is one of the region’s leading venture capital firms with investments in over 70 companies, including Careem and Nana.
This text is the translation of an article published on Arabnews.com