Salaam Gateway

INTERVIEW-How can new crowdfunder GlobalSadaqah improve transparency, impact of Islamic social finance?

In this interview Umar Munshi, the founder and CEO of Ethis Ventures talks about the Islamic crowdfunding sector. Ethis Ventures is a pioneer in the sector centred in Southeast Asia, in Singapore, as well as in Malaysia and Indonesia. Ethis Ventures is behind Ethis Crowd, the first Islamic real estate crowdfunding platform that raises funds for social housing development projects in Indonesia. Ethis is also behind Kapital Boost, which crowdfunds financing for small and medium-sized enterprises. The company’s latest project is a charity-based crowdfunding platform called GlobalSadaqah. It aims to match high-impact charity campaigns to donors who give either zakat or sadaqah.

Muslims in #India develop mutual health #insurance scheme as alternative to #takaful

A not-for-profit health assurance scheme, called Uplift Mutuals Biradaree, started in April this year in India. The scheme works on the model of mutual assurance, with certain features maintaining the values of Shariah-compliant finance. The health assurance scheme will work on the existing platform of Uplift Mutuals, a fifteen-year-old community-owned mutual health assurance model developed by Uplift India Association. Uplift Mutuals Biradaree is designed to be affordable and is open to all financially vulnerable families. A single member pays 700 Indian rupees ($10) per annum and a family of four 1,400 rupees per year. The annual contribution has been kept low because part of the capital and operating expenditures are currently met by external funding from the global industry body the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF).

Responding to demand, Islamic #microfinance start-up starts accepting cryptocurrencies for zakat

Islamic microfinance start-up Blossom Finance has started accepting zakat payments in cryptocurrencies for zakat-eligible cryptocurrency assets in response to user demand. Blossom Finance has designated a wallet for zakat payments at a cryptocurrency exchange in Indonesia. Blossom will channel the zakat to the Indonesian financial cooperative Baitul Maal Wat Tamwil (BMT) that will distribute the funds to any of the 87 microfinance institutions that the start-up has agreed to partner with. The crypto zakat payment on crypto assets is completed once deposited in the Blossom-designated wallet. CEO Matthew Joseph Martin said Blossom Finance would not take a fee for providing the zakat payment facility. The company’s aim is to provide a working model for zakat collection and management organizations.

First Islamic #crowdfunding platform for affordable homes to increase impact with backing of Expo 2020 Dubai

The world’s first Islamic real estate crowdfunding platform Ethis Crowd will showcase the solution at Expo 2020 Dubai. Ethis Crowd enables individuals to collectively fund and invest in new residential developments for low-income households in Indonesia and Malaysia. Created in 2014 and headquartered in Singapore, Ethis Crowd enables public investors to collectively gather funds to develop affordable housing projects. Typically completed in one to two years, the homes are then sold to ethical partner banks, who resell them to end-users. More than 20,000 investors and donors from 52 countries are registered on the platform. About 60% of the investment comes from Singapore, while an increasing number of investors originate from the Middle East.

London’s #takaful standards seeking Shariah scholars’ approval by year-end for 2019 roll-out – industry association

London’s draft standards for transaction of Islamic commercial insurance are seeking Shariah scholars’ approval this year for roll-out next year. The Islamic Insurance Association of London (IIAL), which counts Lloyd’s of London as a founding member, has sought Shariah and legal opinion for the standards framework it has developed. The planned roll-out of IIAL’s takaful standards will more or less coincide with the UK’s departure from the European Union on March 29 next year. According to IIAL secretary-general Jon Guy, lots of managing general agents (MGAs) will target UK retail takaful because they will have the ability to access Shariah-compliant capital. Once the syndicates have gone through the regulatory and administrative setup, they will be very keen at looking at how they can deploy it.

#Malaysia central bank to launch revised #takaful operational framework

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) plans to revise its takaful operational framework. Governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim said the revised framework would be published for consultation before the middle of the year. He said it would strengthen the governance of takaful operators, including how takaful funds are managed, to further safeguard the interest of takaful participants. On the objective of 25% family takaful penetration by 2020, he said it was ambitious, but achievable. Muhammad noted that the industry was lagging in terms of migration to e-payments. He added that another area that is wide open for innovation was the integration of takaful with elements of waqf, sadaqah and zakat.

Newly empowered #Saudi women to help drive growth at Al Rajhi Bank

Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Bank has opened 133 female-only branches and a car showroom for women to help them access car loans. Women have been allowed to attend mixed sporting events and will be able to drive from June. Al Rajhi Bank is a major provider of vehicle loans and has operated car showrooms since 2008. They were only for men until the bank opened its first women-only one late last year. Al Rajhi CEO Steve Bertamini said families usually have a large automobile already, so the cars for women tend to be smaller vehicles for commuting. He added that the bank would provide extended hours for women within existing car showrooms and increase the number of female bank branches in 2018. Women's increased economic activity will help the bank's loan growth outperform the 4% expected for the sector in 2018.

What’s the demand for #gold in Islamic markets?

The Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange (DGCX) plans to introduce a physically-backed Shariah-compliant spot gold contract. Trading is expected to begin March 29. This comes at a time when the global demand for gold dropped 7% to 4,071.7 tonnes in 2017. Among key Muslim-majority economies in 2017, Turkey saw the biggest demand for investment bars and coins, at 52.4 tonnes, representing 5% of global demand. Indonesia follows with 20.2 tonnes, equivalent to around 2% of global demand for investment bars and coins. Saudi Arabia leads Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, with 9.9 tonnes, representing around 0.96% of global demand. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) saw a demand of 5.5 tonnes, equal to around 0.53% of global demand. Globally, Greater China and India were the biggest markets for investment bars and coins, at 313.8 tonnes and 164.2 tonnes, respectively.

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