Bahrain Development Bank (BDB), through its Rowad Team, organized the 10th Rowad Majlis. The annual event,attended by entrepreneurs and experts in the business field, highlighted the advantages and benefits of the Fintech industry and the appetite the businesses have for the Sharia-complaint products.
The Majlis hosted Junaid Wahedna, Founder & CEO of Wahed Invest, an American-based Halal-Focused investment and the first robo-advisor aimed at Muslim investors through a Sharia-complaint platform.
In his opening speech, BDB Group CEO Sanjeev Paul said that Bahrain is leading the way in supporting entrepreneurship through the progressive thinking of its leadership and institutions like Tamkeen, EDB, BDB and many more.
“In BDB we have the core mandate of supporting and financing Bahraini entrepreneurs whether they are startups, early stage companies or well established businesses.
“I truly believe that BDB is more than just a bank. It is a vital institution directly linked to the growth and development of the Kingdom of Bahrain. We are the only bank in the kingdom that caters to the small and medium-sized Bahraini entrepreneurs. In addition to funding these companies, we also run a unique development service program called “Rowad” wherein we support entrepreneurs in improving their businesses through mentoring, training, incubation, funding, partnership and providing them with a network of investors.
“BDB also runs a pioneering accelerator program called the “Seed Fuel” wherein we invest up to BD25,000 of seed capital in a start-up enterprise.”
Mr. Paul said that BDB has also launched Al Waha Fund of Funds which has successfully closed its $100m fundraising round, with approximately one third already in the process of being allocated – making it the first active venture capital fund of funds in the region.
“The initiative is an important milestone for the region’s growing startup ecosystem. It will provide additional capital to innovative and technology-driven startups in Bahrain and across the Middle East through venture capital funds currently established in Bahrain, and by attracting new funds in the region,” he said.
The discussion session, moderated by BDB’s Development Division Senior Vice President Areije Alshakar, highlighted the role and the importance of digital web management which are known as “robo-advisors”.
Mr.Wahedna said Wahed Invest, based in New York, is a Sharia-Compliant investment firm.
“Established in 2015, it is the first robo-advisor aimed toward Muslim small investors looking for ethical investments. The investment companies cannot involve liquor, firearms, gambling or tobacco industries, nor can they generate excess profit from interest. The robo-advisor invests in Sukuks (Islamic bonds), U.S. stocks, emerging stock markets and gold.
“We have been slowly trying to enter the Middle East market; especially the GCC region and we are here in Rowad Majlis to help budding entrepreneurs realize that they can expand their businesses in other countries where they can experience global presence and effect,” added Mr. Wahedna.
Al Rowad Majlis is one of the programs and mechanisms in the bank aimed at spreading and motivating a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation among young Bahrainis and promoting the growth of small and medium enterprises by providing opportunities for young people interested in this field, as well as existing entrepreneurs, experts and specialists in supporting and developing the entrepreneurship sector and establish a network of cooperation and exchange of experiences and information among all participants.
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