amwalak, the Middle East’s leading comparison site, has raised $3.5 million from its existing investors, including STC Ventures, Wamda Capital, Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority and Saned Partners, in its latest phase of funding.
The money raised is part of an initial closing ahead of a larger, Series B round of funding to be concluded in the coming months. It will be used to help the company expedite the growth of its fast-growing insurance business in the UAE and wider Middle East. Since launching the UAE’s first online car insurance comparison portal in March 2016, amwalak’s insurance business has grown to such levels that it sells $1.5 million worth of insurance policies per month, with the company expecting that number to reach $5 million per month by the end of 2017.
The majority of the new investment has come from existing investors STC Ventures, managed by Iris Capital, and Wamda Capital, which first backed amwalak in the company’s Series A in 2015, with both doubling their investment in the business through this latest round of financing. The round also includes further investment from Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority and Saned Partners. To date, amwalak has raised over $9 million in total.
“Our commitment of further funds to amwalak illustrates our belief in the founders’ ability to scale their insurance business across the UAE and the wider GCC. And with amwalak soon to enter Saudi Arabia with its insurance comparison platform, we see enormous opportunities for the business,” said Angus Paterson, Partner at Iris Capital, which manages the STC Ventures fund.
Khaled Talhouni, Managing Partner at Wamda Capital, added: “With the launch of its car insurance comparison portal, amwalak has managed the addition of a transactional business model with aplomb. We’re excited to support the company’s founders as they build out this line of the business further in the UAE and launch it in new Middle Eastern markets. We have no doubt that there’s another great success story on the horizon.”
William Chappell, Chief Financial Officer at Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, said: “This funding cycle marks our third investment in amwalak. DSOA is committed to supporting promising, technology-based start-ups and we are very proud to be associated with this innovative business that has transformed the online car insurance sector in the UAE.”
As of April 2017, amwalak’s year-on-year growth in insurance policy sales reached 600%, making the company, by a considerable margin, the largest insurance aggregator in the UAE and one of the country’s top insurance distributors. And with sales five to seven times greater than those of its nearest competitor, over that same period, amwalak has seen GMV (the total value of policies sold) growth of over 400%.
“Progress in the insurance business has been such that we have already outgrown the office we took on last year for our state-of-the-art call centre. As we continue to expand the call centre, we will soon be moving into a much bigger office to accommodate our growing staff of agents,” said Samer Chehab, COO of yallacompare.com.
And with the launch of online insurance comparison in Saudi Arabia imminent for amwalak, the company is looking to capitalise on pent-up demand for the ability to compare prices and buy policies online.
“As we saw when we launched car insurance comparison in the UAE, and as our growth numbers prove, there is so much demand among consumers to arrange insurance online. In the UK, well over 50% of policies are bought online, whereas the Middle East figure is a fraction of that. We’ll be working to change that as we launch in new markets and consumers realise the benefits of comparing and buying policies online,” said Jon Richards, CEO of yallacompare.com.
Investors’ willingness to commit further funds is not only based on the promising outlook of amwalak’s insurance business, but is also an affirmation of the company’s high-performing banking business, too. The banking products comparison service continues to perform well, while new businesses, including the comparison of medical clinics and telecoms packages, are providing additional revenue streams.