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Saudi-based online learning platform, Noon Academy, has secured $8.6 million in series A funding. It is the company’s first institutional capital raise and the largest funding raise in MENA’s EdTech industry. The funding will be used to enroll 50 million students over five years and help the company to expand to other emerging markets.
The academy, which currently has more than two million students and 1,500 certified tutors in Saudi Arabia alone, will also use the new investments to continue building the company’s engineering and product teams, and double down on growth in its existing markets such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
The round was co-led by Raed Ventures and STV, with participation from institutional investor Ali Samiah Investment, Saudi Venture Capital company. A group of angel investors included Careem co-founder, Abdulla Elyas, and Elm’s CEO Dr Abdul Rahman Aljadhai, alongside Mazen Aljubai.
Launched in 2013 by two Saudi entrepreneurs, Mohammed Aldhalaan and Dr Abdulaziz Alsaeed, with just two tutors and less than 30 students, Noon Academy offers tutoring and free educational content through a “freemium” revenue model that allows all users free access to basic content, and charges users for access to private tutors and more advanced content.
The EdTech industry is gaining momentum in the region and has bagged millions in investments. Egyptian app, Orcas, recently picked up $500,000 in a pre-series A funding round. The UAE’s online video e-learning platform, Almentor, secured $3.5 million in its latest funding round, bringing its total funding to $7 million since 2016. And Lebanon-based Arabic interactive learning platform for K-12, Kamkalima, has also raised $1.5 million.
EdTech funding is expected to hit $252 billion worldwide by 2020, according to EdTechXGlobal.
“Noon is transforming into an open platform, where teachers around the world can start their own educational groups, allowing exceptional teachers to organically cultivate their own following and generate additional income through excellent performance and positive reviews,” said Mohammed Aldhalaan, Co-Founder and CEO of Noon Academy. “This approach not only dramatically improves student motivation, but also allows exceptional teachers to teach thousands of students in one group, making high-quality education accessible and affordable to the masses.”
Noon was named one of the World Economic Forum’s 100 Most Promising Arab Startups In 2019. It currently employees a team of over 90, hailing from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and India to handle technology, management and supply chain issues. An active student spends over 55 minutes on average on the app daily, which is almost four times of the EdTech industry average of 14 minutes per day.
The platform helps students to pass the Saudi general aptitude test and the achievement test and is accredited from the Saudi National Centre of Assessment (QIYAS).
Omar Almajdouie, Founding Partner at Raed Ventures, Hani Enaya, Partner at STV, and Abdullah Elyas, Careem Co-founder, will join Noon Academy’s Board of Directors.