Digital Platform to Provide Non-Interest SME Financing in Nigeria

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Friday, August 13, 2021 / 11:00 AM / by Bukola Akinyele-Yisau for WebTV / Header Image Credit: WebTV


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Fintech will improve non-interest SME financing for Shariah-compliant entrepreneurs in Nigeria with innovative products and services. Mr. Bashir Yusuf, the Founder/CEO of 'eTijar', a non-interest finance and investment platform, made this point while discussing "Leveraging Fintech to Deepen Nigeria's Non-Interest Market".


Speaking on the operations and strategy of eTijar in Nigeria, he said the platform started in 2018 to provide non-interest shariah-compliant SME financing in Nigeria. This also involves lending, which is to be done seamlessly without the attendant risks.


According to him, Islamic finance is about risk-sharing, and eTijar has looked into how its operations can ensure that people's investments are safe and risk-free.


He noted that aside from SME financing, 'eTijar' is also focused on personal finance management for ethical investors.


Through its research, eTijar found out that many young Muslims earning good income lacked the culture of saving or investing. Also, another issue eTijar detected was that there is no technology to cater for the young population that can enable collaboration with Shariah-compliant management firms and those in the Islamic banking window.


eTijar developed the platform to appeal to a younger generation living in rural areas, industry players, fund managers, and Islamic banks.


For those financially excluded, he pointed out that eTijar already designed product & services for them to be included and educate them about Islamic finance and investments before selling the products to them.


On the investment options available on eTijar and how individuals can navigate the platform seamlessly, Bashir Yusuf explained that they have started building an investment screening engine; that helps to ascertain the form of investments or which equities are shariah compliant.


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Three areas are critical in achieving the screening and compliance with the market, which includes;

  • Ascertaining and telling the users that X and Y companies are Shariah-compliant to invest in their equities
  • Mutual funds are in the market to offer users and
  • Also, working with fund managers for the benefit of users.   


Speaking on the non-interest products available on the platform, he said it is to help small businesses grow and investors who want to generate returns on their capital ethically.


Bashir stressed that what eTijar have now is the mutual fund and the equities and is also working with shariah advisors and banking partners to see the product they can design to satisfy SMEs.


According to him, their focus is on Murabaha and Ijarah and concentrate on a particular market segment such as pharmacies, restaurant operators, etc.


On how eTijar Islamic fintech can bridge the financial exclusion gap in Nigeria, Bashir said the platform works on several technologies to support the rural communities through innovations like biometric or facial recognition. 


The expert said technology adoption is moving fast, and the capital market needs to adapt quickly to unlock opportunities in the market.


On the need to gain investor confidence and how eTijar aligns with effective risk management, trust and transparency, he explained further that all products to be listed in the market would have certificates from the shariah advisors. Also, they will identify the best fund managers to work with to make sure that they are doing the right thing with people's funds.


 

He added that the benefit and returns for investing on the eTijar platform allow users to know they are dealing with profit and not interest. There is a good return on investment, and investors are assured of it.



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