Careem, a fast-growing global ridesharing company and low profile rival of Uber in emerging markets, has raised $350 million in first round of funding from Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce firm and Saudi Telecom Company (STC), the largest telecom operator in the Middle East.
This is a major step up for Dubai-based Careem, valued at $1 billion in this fundraising round. With $100 million investment, STC has acquired 10 percent of the company, STC filing revealed.
Careem is a relatively new entrant in this industry and in a short span of time, has successfully expanded to 47 cities across 11 countries. The four-year old company mainly operates in Middle Eastern countries, in addition to Pakistan, North Africa and Turkey, with approximately six million active users and 150,000 drivers in these territories.
This is the first round of funding to raise $500 million in total, which is likely to be used by the company to pursue an ambitious expansion plan, including 15 new cities across Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt by the end of December. However, the company has not provided any timeframe when the second round of the fund raising campaign will be completed.
Careem as part of its expansion plan would also increase its driver pool (referred to as Captains by the company), creating roughly one million new jobs. In addition to that, the company has also pledged to allocate funds for research and development activities to accelerate innovation in transport-related technology within the Middle East.
On this occasion, CEO and co-founder of Careem Mudassir Sheikha said in a statement “we are inspired and humbled to work with world class strategic partners like Rakuten and STC.” He added that these companies “not only bring significant institutional backing for Careem’s new horizons, but also global technology leadership and deep local experience bringing us closer to achieving our mission of improving the lives of everyone in the region.”
Besides Rakuten and STC, other investors in the first round of funding include Abraaj Group, Al Tayyar Group, Beco Capital, El Sewedy Investments, Endure Capital, Lumia Capital, SQM Frontier and Wamda Capital.
— Careem (@careem) December 19, 2016