Manara, a Middle East and North Africa (MENA) focused ed-tech startup has raised $3 million in pre-seed funding. The funding round was led by payments giant Stripe and saw the involvement of other investors such as LinkedIn founder, Reid Hoffman; Paul Graham, the founder of Y Combinator; Eric Ries, founder of Lean Startup, and Mudassir Sheikha, founder, and CEO of Careem.
The newly-received funding will be geared toward growing the talent pool in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Per its website, “Manara is the bridge between top computer scientists from the Missle East & North Africa and their dream jobs.”
The startup which projects itself as a social impact ed-tech, offers training to qualifiers without them having to pay any tuition fee on the condition that they pay 10 percent of their salaries when they get a job for two years.
Manara was founded in 2021 by Iliana Montauk and Laila Abudahi. According to these founders, participants who went through its training have secured jobs in big tech companies such as Google and Meta.
Relating the need for a platform like Manara with her experience, Chief Technology Officer Laila Abudahi said that “I grew up in Palestine and realized quickly that to become a world-class engineer I needed to work on highly-scaled products with experienced teams. After I reached my dream through lots of trial and error, I wanted to make it easier for people back home to do the same. Ultimately, these engineers will become the CTOs and senior developers that the region needs in order to accelerate the growing success of its own tech ecosystem.”
The startup claims that about 86 percent of its trained engineers get employment offers within five months of becoming an alumnus. For those who already have a job, they get up to a 300 percent pay hike, it added.
With the new funding, Manara wants to provide funding for the training of 60-6,000 engineers annually. It also is looking to launch a self-service product for interview practice, networking and mentorship, and connecting with software engineers around the world.
Iliana Montauk while commenting on the investment it received and the quality of its investors said that “We received more appetite from investors than we could accommodate, signaling an increasing interest from Silicon Valley in platforms that facilitate online and offline communities, and solutions to access highly-skilled talent from emerging markets.”
“Europe’s tech sector is growing quickly. There’s a massive need for new solutions to access talent, whether remote or onsite. The Middle East and North Africa is an obvious fit because of proximity and time zones. We’re very excited to back the first startup bridging these two markets – and are particularly excited about the founders’ commitment to women engineers,” Seedcamp’s managing partner Carlos Espinal said.