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New #UK waqf fund to start investing in real estate with eye on other asset classes

The recently established UK-based National Waqf Fund (NWF) will start investing in real estate, according to CEO and co-founder Umer Suleman. NWF will be focused on the charity and social aspects of waqf. The three main aims of NWF are to establish a central fund, manage awqaf on behalf of other organisations as well as create a virtual centre of excellence for Islamic endowments. NWF will invest in real estate and through its investment committee decide on how and where to deploy the funds. Suleman noted that the upcoming property portfolio will primarily focus on London, Birmingham and Manchester, without the exclusion of other areas. NWF aims to raise £10 million ($12.37 million) within the next 1 to 2 years. Within the next decade, Suleman hopes NWF will have around £150 million of assets under management.

First sharia crypto exchange opens in #UAE

A new sharia-compliant crypto exchange has announced plans to launch in the UAE. Sustain Exchange hopes to offer sharia-complaint and ethical services to give Muslims a space in which to invest in the crypto market. An initial coin offering is planned for June and security tokens issued during the offering will serve as the key to accessing the exchange’s services. Sustain Exchange will introduce an independent sharia advisory to maintain compliance with sharia principles. To this end it has appointed an Islamic fintech scholar to its board, Mifti Faraz, director of Amanah Finance Consultancy.

#Indonesia to Roll Out Relief Fund for Banks to Ease Impacts from Pandemic

The Indonesian government has issued a regulation for the relief fund to the banking sector to cope with the financial impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak. The regulation states that the government may channel fund to the so-called participating banks. The participating banks will in turn pass the fund on to the “executing banks”, smaller banks who meet certain requirements. President Joko Widodo has earlier urged banks to loosen their terms on debtors and restructure loans as many are unable to repay in time amid massive job losses or salary cuts due to the outbreak.

Covid-19 fund amassed RM8.1m in donations

THE Covid-19 fund, launched by Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on March 11, received a RM5 million contribution yesterday. The donations came from Spanco Sdn (RM2 million), followed by DRB-Hicom, MMC Corp and YTL Corp who contributed RM1 million each. Property developer Titijaya Land has contributed 520,000 face masks for frontliners. With the above donations, the fund has amassed a total of RM8.13 million in contributions. The government has launched the Covid-19 fund to help affected Malaysians. Similarly, the Malaysian Department of Islamic Development has also launched another fund to help the Muslim communities affected by the outbreak. Separately, some Malaysians are criticising the setting up of funds and are calling on ministers to take pay cuts instead.

Saudi based Alinma Investment stuns the market with their Sukuk Bond ETF launch

Alinma Investment has recently launched its Sukuk Bond ETF in order to provide a low risk investment vehicle for the end investor. The world is currently awash with volatility and there has never been a better time to reap the benefits of a well-diversified multi-asset model portfolio. Until the recent launches of Sukuk Bond ETFs, it had proven very difficult to construct a Model Portfolio for GCC based investors, but this is no longer the case and it is not out of the question that this opening up of the Saudi Arabia Government Bond market could prove a key step going forward for other investors outside of the region. Alinma’s stunning ETF launch has more than a USD300 million in seed, so this fund is already large enough to be used by institutional investors across the globe.

Global Iman Fund: Learn about Canada's Shariah Compliant Equity Mutual Fund

Global Growth Assets Inc. has Canada’s only Shariah compliant equity mutual fund, the Global Iman Fund, which boasts a solid 10-year track record showing consistent growth. Fundata has awarded the fund its coveted FundGrade “A” rating, which places the Global Iman Fund in the top 10% of all global equity funds in Canada in risk-adjusted performance. Global Iman Fund is actively managed by the Swiss multinational financial services company UBS. The fund has been endorsed by a Fatwa from the Islamic Finance Advisory Board as being Shariah compliant. Audits by the Advisory Board find that the Fund invests in companies according to its objectives of Shariah compliance.

Islamic banks ready to support SMEs

The local Malayesean small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are not fully utilising various solutions provided by Islamic banks despite credit availability. The Association of Islamic Banking and Financial Institutions Malaysia (AIBIM) took a survey in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor and about 10,000 SMEs received RM10 billion in funding.

#China-#Bahrain venture fund targets Middle East tech market

China’s MSA Capital and Al Salam Bank-Bahrain launched a $50 million venture capital fund to invest in sectors such as e-commerce and financial technology in the Middle East. The fund also plans to target big data, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and logistics and networking systems. The $50 million MEC Ventures was raised from seed money, Chinese entrepreneurs and institutional investors and family offices from Gulf Cooperation Council countries. MSA Capital has existing investments in Chinese entrepreneurs who have taken the Chinese model into the MENA region.

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala launches $250 million MENA tech investment vehicles

Mubadala Investment Company has launched AED 918 million ($250 million) MENA-focused tech investment funds to support start-ups from the GCC as well as the entire Middle East region. The state investor stated that its new MENA tech funds will invest in companies and venture funds that help boost local tech incubator Hub71. The funds will include a AED 550 million ($150 million) programme, which is committed to support the Hub71 ecosystem. Mubadala Capital stated that it will commit to San Francisco-based Data Collective Venture Capital (DCVC), Middle East Ventures Partners (MEVP) and Global Ventures as a part of its first funds cohort. Similarly, the investment programme will also include a further AED 367 million ($100 million) fund dedicated to direct investments in early-stage technology companies. Microsoft and SoftBank Group are partners in Hub71, and the Abu Dhabi-based scheme offers incentives like office space and health care coverage to encourage start-ups to set up shop in the region.

Accion Venture Lab launches $23M inclusive fintech startup #fund

Accion, a non profit that supports microfinance institutions globally, has announced that its Accion Venture Lab is adding $33 million to its initial capital pool. Accion starts with the launch of a new $23 million fund, and an additional, separate $10 million investment will follow. The new fund comes from a group of third-party impact and commercial investors, bringing Venture Lab's total capital under management to $43 million. Launched in 2012 with $10 million in capital, Accion Venture Lab invests in fintech startups at the seed stage. The Venture Lab portfolio focuses on the fintech space that offers the potential to reach underserved communities. Today, those include insurtech, agricultural finance, digital lending, holistic MSME finance solutions, and personal financial management.

Dubai’s Noor Bank launches 3.2 mln dirham #waqf #fund with Ajman Uni to benefit Islamic banking and finance

Noor Bank has launched a 3.2 million dirhams ($871,000) waqf fund with Ajman University to benefit Islamic banking and finance studies. The current pledge of 3.2 million dirhams will benefit one professorship and four scholarships. Noor Bank’s head of Shariah Dr Adnan Aziz said that four scholarships will remain on offer every year, as long as the fund remains intact and continues to generate returns. The waqf amount will be held in perpetuity but the returns on investment will be used to benefit the scholarships. The basic criteria of the scholarships is a combination of academic excellence and financial needs of students registered on a course at the College of Business Administration at Ajman University. The scholarships are available for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

INTERVIEW: Major Gulf sovereign wealth funds gear up for ESG investing

Four Gulf countries are laying the groundwork to be aligned to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards through their sovereign wealth funds’ undertakings. Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) are among founding members of 'One Planet Sovereign Wealth Funds'. The aim is to accelerate integration of financial risks and opportunities related to climate change in the management of long-term asset. A recent Moody’s report said that ESG risks are becoming more significant as regulatory policies, market developments and social attitudes change rapidly, putting the banks under growing pressure to integrate ESG considerations into their investment decisions.

Wahed Invest launches Shariah-compliant US equity ETF

Halal-focused investment firm Wahed Invest has debuted its first ETF – the Wahed FTSE USA Shariah ETF (HLAL US). Listed on Nasdaq, the fund provides exposure to US firms that comply with Shariah principles. The ETF is linked to the FTSE USA Shariah Index which screens the constituents of the parent FTSE USA Index to determine their Shariah status. The most notable sector difference between the FTSE USA Shariah Index and the FTSE USA Index is that the former has zero allocation to financials stocks (vs. 18.5% in the FTSE USA). Consequently, the index has a larger allocation to technology (28.6% vs. 22.0%), healthcare (22.2% vs. 12.7%), and oil & gas (13.1% vs. 5.0%). While there are a few Shariah-compliant ETFs listed in Europe, with issuers DWS and BlackRock offering products, the space is relatively untouched in the US.

Noor Bank raises over Dhs500m for Azimut’s fixed maturity fund

Noor Bank entered a successful collaboration with Azimut (DIFC) to launch the largest US-dollar Islamic fixed maturity plan (FMP) in the UAE under a Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) domiciliation. Raising Dhs507 million in subscriptions within two weeks of its launch, the FMP that will mature in four years is set to provide an income of 5% per annum through investing in sukuk portfolio. Noor Bank began operations in Dubai in 2008 as an Islamic financial institution. Azimut is Italy’s leading independent asset manager (active since 1989). The parent company Azimut Holding was listed on the Italian stock exchange on 7 July 2004 (AZM.MI) and, among others, is a member of the main Italian index FTSE MIB.

Bricklane receives Shariah accreditation for its residential property investment #funds

Bricklane’s funds have been certified as compliant by the Shariah Committee of Minarah Consulting chaired by Sheikh Faizal Manjoo. Through Bricklane’s online platform, individuals can invest flexibly in geographically focussed funds that buy and let residential properties, one focussed on London, and another on the Regional Capitals of Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham. Available through ISAs and SIPPs, and with Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) tax status, it is the most tax-efficient way to invest in UK residential property. Performance for the Bricklane funds has been strong in both absolute and relative terms, with the Regional Capitals fund returning 8.7% to investors in its first year, and its London fund returning 10% at its first anniversary in July 2018.

New group forming to alleviate poverty in Palestinian territories

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) has established an investment fund aimed at curbing Palestinian poverty. The fund will help finance the Palestinian People’s Economic Empowerment Institution. The Palestinian government has given instructions to the Ministry of Social Development to prepare to launch the institution in mid-2019. The poor inside Palestine are the institution’s first target, and priority will be given to areas Israel has targeted with economic restrictions such as Gaza, the Jordan Valley, Jerusalem, the areas adjacent to the settlements and the West Bank wall. It will also work to empower women and the poor abroad, particularly those living in Palestinian refugee camps.

World’s first ESG #sukuk #fund another step forward for #Malaysia’s responsible finance

Malaysia’s Shariah-compliant BIMB Investment Management launched the world’s first environmental, social and governance (ESG) sukuk fund on August 1. BIMB’s ESG Sukuk Fund is the company’s fifth ESG-focused fund as a result of its partnership since 2015 with London-based Arabesque Asset Management. BIMB Investment CEO Najmuddin Mohd Lutfi said the company plans to launch more ESG that incorporates fintech like artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, data analytics. The next investment focus could be in U.S. equity and multi-asset funds.

Which are the Sharia-compliant mutual #fund schemes in #India?

There are three Sharia-compliant mutual funds in India: Tata Ethical, Taurus Ethical and Reliance ETF Shariah BeES. The first two are actively-managed multi-cap schemes and Reliance ETF Sharia BeES is an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that invests in the Nifty50 Sharia Index.
There are also sectoral funds with investment in Reliance Pharma, ICICI Pru Pharma Healthcare & Diagnostics, SBI Technology Opportunities, ICICI Pru Technology or Franklin India Technology. However, these funds are vulnerable to cyclical fluctuations in their respective sector.

Jaiz to commence disbursement of $20m SMEs #fund

The Managing Director of Jaiz Bank Hassan Usman has said the bank would soon begin the disbursement of the $20m facility for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The bank had in March signed the agreement with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of Private Sector to finance SMEs with $20m (N6.1bn). Usman said the bank would soon begin the disbursement, adding that the fund would be disbursed before the end of the year. He said the bank had commenced a five year strategic plan to provide better services to its customers. For example, the bank had increased its visibility in Lagos by opening more branches and plans to extend to other regions of the country as well.

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