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Spending management startup SiFi raises $10 million for further growth in Saudi Arabia

The global spend management sector is experiencing a tailwind of sorts. North America is arguably the largest market in this space, but spend management companies are seeing an increase in demand worldwide, thanks to increasing internet penetration, technological advancements and an increasing focus on businesses spending wisely.

Indeed, the space is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10.3% by 2030, according to Grand View research, and adoption in other regions such as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is expected to grow as companies increasingly adopt cost management tools to get a clearer picture of where their money is going.

Saudi Arabia-based Simplified Financial Solutions (SiFi), one such spend management platform in the MENA region, has now raised $10 million in a seed funding round to double down on its growth plans in the domestic market. The round was led by Sanabil Investments, a member of the Saudi Public Investment Fund, and early-stage MENA VC, RAED Ventures.

Founded in 2021 Ahmed Alhakbani, SiFi helps organizations manage all their spend, including payments to suppliers and invoices, and is looking to expand its business after receiving an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license from the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) last year. The company plans to use the license to provide a range of services, including e-wallets and smart corporate cards.

Alhakbani told TechCrunch that he thought about starting SiFi while working as the head of customs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He saw firsthand how fragmented expense management was at headquarters and at all entry points to the Kingdom — making it doubly difficult to track and control expenses, and even leaving room for abuse.

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Spending management startup SiFi raises $10 million in seed funding backed by a Saudi fund
Founder of SiFi, Ahmed Alhakbani. Image credits: SiFi
Image credits: SiFi

SiFi’s product allows its customers to control the use of their corporate cards and limit costs at the merchant or geographic level. The platform also allows employees, especially those who do not use corporate cards, to submit claims for reimbursement of their expenses and bills.

Alhakbani said the platform helps companies avoid spend management issues such as human error, fraud, lack of proper workflow, approval delays and lack of spend visibility. “We believe SiFi could play a very important role in enabling finance departments to become much more efficient in their ability to serve the rest of the company. We want to go beyond just costs to a full suite of solutions for in-house consumption,” he said.

He said SiFi is building a solution that will expand beyond Saudi Arabia because its technology stack allows it to integrate into any market. However, he noted that growth outside of Saudi Arabia will be targeted.

SiFi’s competitors in the MENA region include Saudi Arabia’s Sanad, United Arab Emirates-based Pemo, which raised a significant seed round in 2022, and Alaan.

Other investors that participated in SiFi’s seed round include anb seed, Rua Ventures, Byld and KBW ventures and existing VCs Khwarizmi Ventures, Seedra Ventures and Tech Invest Com.

SiFi joins a growing list of Saudi startups that have raised good money this year even as venture capital has scaled back activity globally. Earth continues to Take the lead in terms of venture capital investment in the MENA region, driven by the government’s push to to create a favorable environment for innovators and companies as it seeks to diversify its revenue streams and reduce its dependence on oil.

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