MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Silatech Develops Crowdfunding Website Narwi for Shariah-Compliant Microfinance in Middle East, North Africa

Silatech, a Qatar-based social enterprise aiming to increase employment and entrepreneurship among youth in the Middle East and North Africa, recently announced the development of Narwi, a nonprofit crowdfunding platform that will support microentrepreneurs via Islamic charitable giving. The platform is scheduled to be launched in late June 2015.

Through Narwi, donors will be able to establish an endowment called a “Narwi Waqf” to fund microentrepreneurs with donations as small as USD 25. Projects featured by Narwi are sourced solely from lenders in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Somalia and Yemen that are compliant with Shariah, the Islamic legal system. By the end of 2015, Narwi plans to:(1) extend its services to Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan and Tunisia; (2) expand its website interface from only English to include Arabic and French; (3) launch a separate Narwi channel called “Narwi Donations” to serve customers of lenders that are not Shariah compliant.

Both Narwi platforms will accept donations based on the practice of Islamic charitable giving, known as zakat. Microentrepreneurs who borrow these funds will repay them according to the Shariah-compliant practice called murabaha, or “cost plus markup” sale contracts (also known as Shariah-compliant trading), in which a marked-up price of assets is charged instead of interest. Donors cannot extract money from their Narwi Waqf, but the initial donor can choose the next microfinance program to fund as the endowment is repaid.

Narwi has been supported by partners including: Kiva, Qatar Charity, Afif, Qatar National Bank, PayPal and the International Office of Migration. Since 2009, Silatech reports having financed approximately 90,000 youth-operated businesses in 14 countries. As of 2015, Silatech has raised approximately USD 237 million in co-funding for its microenterprise programs.

By Meredith Steih, Research Associate

Sources and Additional Information:

Microfinance Gateway Press Release: “Narwi Overview”, http://www.microfinancegateway.org/sites/default/files/announcement/narwi_overview_english_2.pdf

About Silatech
Founded in 2008, Silatech is a Qatar-based social enterprise aiming to increase employment and entrepreneurship among youth in the Middle East and North Africa. From 2009 through 2015, Silatech reports having financed approximately 90,000 youth-operated businesses in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen. As of 2015, Silatech has raised approximately USD 237 million in co-funding for its microenterprise programs.
MicroCapital Universe Profile: Silatech

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