Baraka, a fintech firm that is based in Dubai, announced that it raised $20 million in a funding round led by Valar Ventures, a New York-based investor backed by billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel.
In a statement, Baraka said, it was the first investment in the Middle East for Valar Ventures, adding that investment firm Knollwood also participated in the Series A round.
With new investments, Baraka also announced its plan to “double down on its presence across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Egypt, and drive customer acquisition.”
The company that provides “commission-free” investing in U.S. stocks and exchange-traded funds also commits to “continue to attract global fintech talent to the region while hiring locally for key positions across departments.” In addition, Baraka said, they are also exploring new markets for expansion in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
“The region’s emerging fintech ecosystem has immense potential and we’re encouraged by the early signs of traction that baraka has been able to showcase,” said Andrew McCormack, general partner at Valar Ventures.
Chief Executive Officer and founder Feras Jalbout said they take pride in the fact that tens of thousands of users have signed up to Baraka, in just one year since its official launch.
Baraka is part of Abu Dhabi’s state-backed tech ecosystem, Hub 71. It is also backed by Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s prominent incubator and startup fund while its list of investors include venture capital firms like Class 5 Global, Global Founders Capital and Venture Souq.
And in order to allow local trading on its app, the company said it was working with stock exchanges in the region, like Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul. The Gulf has seen an initial public offering (IPO) boom that has defied global market trends.
Dubai and the rest of the Middle East are starting to emerge as a key market for venture capital investments in recent years, prompting investors to include startups in this region in their portfolio.