e& enterprise, a subsidiary of UAE-based investment firm e&, has acquired a majority stake in Beehive, the largest peer-to-peer digital platform for SME lending in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region at a valuation of $35 million.

Founded in 2014, Beehive offers both conventional and Sharia-compliant loans, connecting creditworthy SMEs seeking finance with investors, both private and institutional. With operations in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Oman, the company has facilitated over AED1.5bn ($408m) in loans to date.

According to Salvador Anglada, CEO of e& enterprise, the acquisition of Beehive's digital lending platform marks the second step in the company's journey in the fintech space, after the launch of UAE Trade Connect in 2021.

Craig Moore, Beehive's founder and CEO, called the deal a "validation" of his company's efforts over the past nine years and a reflection of the success of the UAE's startup ecosystem. The acquisition is in line with the UAE's National Agenda for Entrepreneurship, which aims to establish the country as an entrepreneurial nation by 2031.

The regulatory structure for SME lending in the region is rapidly evolving, fostering an environment for both liquidity providers and borrowers, with fintech startups and alternative lenders introducing advancements such as data-driven credit scoring and one-time KYC.

The acquisition will enable e& enterprise to tap into the $250bn SME credit gap across the GCC region and expand Beehive's offerings.