The Arab Spring Foundation for Entrepreneurship and Employment, also known as the Farasee Foundation, is a nonprofit organization that was created to launch “1 million jobs for Middle East and North Africa (MENA)” initiative, which intends to provide institutional investors and sovereign funds with opportunities to develop food security and jobs. The initiative will launch in Morocco by providing funding to micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in an effort to stimulate growth in the agribusiness sector of the country. These transactions will comply with Islamic Law, the Shariah, which prohibits interest payments and fees, by way of joint venture and profit sharing. Morocco was chosen to launch the initiative because of the perceived strength of its microfinance institutions (MFIs) as well as the high level of exports of fruits, vegetables and seafood compared with other countries in MENA.
The “1 million jobs for MENA” initiative has the following objectives: provide high returns to investors through dividends and capital appreciation; create 1 million jobs in the MENA region within 7 years; strengthen regional trade and investments in food distribution networks; increase rural development within MENA; and promote Islamic finance practices.
The Farasee Foundation has offices in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and in the Moroccan city of Casablanca. Farasee Capital, a for-profit global private equity management company, will be established in Dubai as a subsidiary of the Farasee Foundation to manage the funds raised. Of the total USD 5 billion to be raised, Farasee Capital would invest USD 1 billion in Morocco to establish a Shariah-compliant financial institution, which is to include a private equity management company and an Islamic microfinance institution (MFI) with a focus on agribusiness as well as small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) growth. The remaining budgeted USD 4 billion will be used for similar work in other MENA countries.
By Sarah Benali, Research Associate
Sources and Additional Resources
Ribh.wordpress.com story: “Morocco to spearhead Islamic private equity in the MENA region with a US$ 1 billion investment fund,” http://ribh.wordpress.com/
Ribh.wordpress.com story: “Join MENA’s Next Private Equity Management Dream Team,” November 2012, http://ribh.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/call-for-interest-for-high-profile-executives/
MicroCapital.org story: “MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: AlHuda Center of Islamic Banking and Economics of Pakistan Creates Center of Excellence in Islamic Microfinance,” July 26, 2012, http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-alhuda-centre-of-islamic-banking-and-economics-of-pakistan-creates-centre-of-excellence-in-islamic-microfinance/
MicroCapital.org story: “MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: HSBC to Provide Technical Assistance to Microfinance Institutions in the Middle East, North Africa in Partnership with Grameen-Jameel, Bankers Without Borders,” May 9, 2012, http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-hsbc-to-provide-technical-assistance-to-microfinance-institutions-in-middle-east-north-africa-in-partnership-with-grameen-jameel-bankers-without-borders/
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