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Home / Companies / News /  Byju’s inks pact with QIA to build MENA-focused subsidiary in Doha

Bengaluru: Edtech firm Byju’s on Monday said it has entered into an agreement with sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) to set up a wholly-owned subsidiary in Doha to focus on students in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA).

The platform also plans to build a research and development hub in Doha to create learning content and products in the Arabic language, as part of the deal.

The announcement comes on the back of Byju’s being named as the sponsor of 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Byju Raveendran, Founder and CEO of Byju’s and Mansoor Al-Mahmoud, CEO of QIA, signed the MoU in the presence of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the State of Qatar and Chairman of QIA, as well as representatives of Byju’s at the 2022 Doha Forum, held on Saturday and Sunday.

“As we continue to witness accelerated growth in Indian and international markets, we are excited to partner with QIA in this next phase of expansion, development and building new innovations in learning in the MENA region. With a sustained focus on creating life-long value for our learners, this partnership with QIA is a significant step in realizing our vision," said Raveendran.

“QIA is proud to help enable the development of innovative education technology platforms in the MENA region to inspire children to learn. QIA has a strong focus on investing in leading innovators globally and we want to help drive the creation of new technologies that have a positive impact on society," said Mansoor Al-Mahmoud.

The announcement also marks a major push for the edtech firm to expand to global markets beyond the US ahead of its proposed IPO.

Interestingly, QIA came in as an investor in Byju’s in 2019, when it led its $150 million round.

QIA was founded in 2005 to invest and manage the state reserve funds. It is among the largest and most active sovereign wealth funds globally.

On March 11, Byju Raveendran made a personal investment of $400 million (around 3,060 crore) of the total $800 million (about 6,100 crore) the latest round of funding in the edtech firm.

This is understood to have pumped up its valuation at around $22 billion.

In October 2021, the edtech decacorn raised close to $300 million in its Series F round of funding led by Oxshott Capital Partners.

In June, Byju’s raised $1.5 billion from UBS Group, Abu Dhabi sovereign fund ADQ, and Blackstone Group, among others, at a valuation of $16.5 billion, up from April fundraising of around $15 billion.

Byju's became a unicorn (start-up with a valuation of $1 billion and above) in 2018, has been ramping up its acquisition strategy this year in a bid to enter newer edtech categories of upskilling, test prep and higher learning, while fortifying its presence across key international geographies including the US.

In February, Byju’s said it will invest as much as $200 million to operate and expand Byju’s Tuition Centre over the next 12 to 18 months, Mrinal Mohit, chief operating officer, Byju’s, told VCCircle in virtual interaction.

The company hopes to enrol one million students into the programme over the next two years and launch 500 such tuition centres across 200 cities this year.

Byju’s hopes to create more than 10,000 jobs across the country with Byju’s Tuition Centre.

Byju’s offline and hybrid forays follow Aakash Educational Services’ plans of adding more physical centres in 2022. VCCircle recently reported that the company plans to add at least 75 more centres this year.

Aakash also claimed it has not given up any of its physical centres since 2020 when the first lockdown was announced after covid-19 emerged.

Over the past months, the company has also strengthened its senior leadership team with the appointment of two new vice presidents (VPs) across engineering as well as in reliability, security and cloud engineering.

In December 2021, Byju’s had announced the appointment of Rachna Bahadur as the Senior Vice President to lead its global expansion plans.

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