Islamic Finance 

Islamic SME crowdfunder Kapital Boost ‘on target’ to triple financing this year

| 23 September, 2018
 Stephanie Augustin
Islamic SME crowdfunder Kapital Boost ‘on target’ to triple financing this year
Photo: Ethis Ventures co-founder Ronald Wijaya and Kapital Boost chief operating officer Norliana Hamber at the Global Islamic Fintech Summit (GIFS) 2018 in Kuala Lumpur. GIFS was held on September 18-19. Photo courtesy GIFS organiser Elmangos

KUALA LUMPUR - Shariah-compliant SME crowdfunding platform Kapital Boost is on target to triple its financing this year, its chief operating officer Norliana Hamber told Salaam Gateway.

The crowdfunder provides murabahah asset financing, a cost plus profit structure, to mostly Indonesian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) but derives most of its investor pool from Singapore.

“Since we started in 2015, we have hit 4.1 million Singapore dollars ($3 million) in financing across 65 projects. In 2017 alone, we recorded 950,000 Singapore dollars ($695,192) in financing. We are trying to triple that this year,” said Hamber.

Kapital Boost started in Singapore in July 2015. It was certified Shariah-compliant in December 2016 by Singapore-based Financial Shariah Advisory & Consultancy.

The SME crowdfunder has been actively expanding its business since early this year.   

“The jump [in financing] will be driven by the partnerships we made in Indonesia this year: with Shariah financing aggregator ALAMI in the first quarter; and SME business community and support platform Genpro in May,” said Hamber.

The crowdfunder will continue on the same trajectory and plans to sign a partnership agreement with an Indonesian e-commerce platform in the fourth quarter of this year, said Hamber.

“Hopefully that will bring in more business,” she said.

Kapital Boost may be exploring other Islamic financing models for SMEs, but not in the near future, Hamber added.

“Right now it’s asset-based financing, but going forward we may do ijarah financing, which is lease-based, but we are not planning that for at least a year.

“In the shorter term, we want to continue forging more partnerships while improving our product further. There are many more opportunities for tie-ups in Indonesia, and we may also try to find institutional investors,” she said.

INDONESIA REGISTRATION

The platform hopes to be registered with Indonesia’s Financial Services Authority (OJK) by the end of this year.

OJK in August released new regulation on financial technology, or fintech, beyond its previous guidelines that mostly covered P2P lending. The new regulation includes transaction settlement that relates to investment, equity crowdfunding, Islamic digital financing, e-waqf and e-zakat.

64 fintech companies were registered with the OJK as at June this year, according to data from the regulator. Only two—Ammana Fintek Syariah and Dana Syariah Indonesia—are fully Shariah-compliant. However, there are more offering Islamic products and services. According to the vice chairman of the Indonesian FinTech Association, Adrian Gunadi, 20 to 30 of its 130 members offer Islamic products and services.

For Kapital Boost, registering in Indonesia will allow it to access the local investor pool.

“We help SMEs in Singapore and Indonesia, but see a greater opportunity in Indonesia because the demand for Shariah financing is a lot higher and there are more businesses requiring asset financing,” said Hamber.

She cites the lack of SME access to formal financing in Indonesia as a key driver for the crowdfunding platform.

“In Singapore, access to funding is available, but in Indonesia, the high-potential business owners are usually less than three years old. When they don’t have a track record, banks won’t even look at them,” said the COO.

“We find SMEs by looking at their projects. Some are two- or three-year-old companies with no collateral or assets, but they have a big purchase order from a multinational corporation that needs to be fulfilled,” said Hamber.

DUBAI, BRUNEI ETHIS EXPANSION

Kapital Boost is part of a family of four platforms under Ethis Ventures.

They are run independently of each other but have some common shareholders, according to Ethis Ventures co-founder Umar Munshi.

The three other platforms are Singapore-registered real estate crowdfunder Ethis Crowd, and two Malaysia-registered platforms: charity donation site Global Sadaqah and Skola Fund that crowdfunds scholarships for students in need.

Ethis Ventures co-founder Ronald Wijaya told Salaam Gateway the start-up plans to also register Ethis Crowd in Indonesia, and both Kapital Boost and Ethis Crowd in Brunei and Dubai as part of its expansion plans. He did not disclose a timeframe for their registration.

(Reporting by Stephanie Augustin; Editing by Emmy Abdul Alim emmy.alim@thomsonreuters.com)

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