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Jeddah – Yasmine El Tohamy – DUBAI: Wa’ed, the entrepreneurship arm of Saudi Aramco, trebled the amount of money loaned to startups in the Kingdom last year as part of its bid to support Saudi entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
The Dhahran-based initiative gave out 12 loans to SMEs, up from four in 2019, with the value surging to SR31 million ($8.27 million), up from SR10 million in 2019.
In terms of venture capital funding, Wa’ed deployed SR43 million to SMEs, up 34 percent year-on-year.
Established in 2011, Wa’ed has deployed more than SR375 million to Saudi SMEs as part of Aramco’s contribution to the Vision 2030 goal of diversifying the Kingdom’s economy away from hydrocarbons.
“I am grateful for the confidence and support we receive from Aramco and the Kingdom, which enables Wa’ed to fulfil its unique pioneering role as an advocate for innovative new businesses that localize technologies and services which are needed in Saudi Arabia and can help improve quality of life,” said Wassim Basrawi, Wa’ed’s managing director.
“In a very challenging year, I am proud of the Wa’ed family, which includes my team and our resilient entrepreneurs, for rising to the challenges and keeping us on track to deliver an even greater impact in 2021.”
Following the onset of COVID-19, Wa’ed adopted a virtual training model for its entrepreneurs, attracting 60 new mentors to its online training platform.
In December, Wa’ed signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate with OQAL, the largest network of angel investors in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, with the goal of creating a new pipeline of potential deals.
Looking to 2021, Wa’ed’s latest initiative is its new Venture Builder, which is described as a breeding ground for promising Saudi startups, providing entrepreneurs and SMEs with back-office services such as marketing, new business development and networking.
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