Mohammad Raafi Hossain tells the story of ‘Narwi’ - a nonprofit Islamic crowdfunding platform giving micro-entrepreneurs in the MENA region a voice.

The total amount of Islamic charitable giving worldwide has been estimated at over USD 200 billion annually. However, there are a sizeable number of young professionals who are frustrated with the lack of transparency, accountability and impact of traditional forms of giving. Narwi is trying to address this frustration and tap into this particular market through Narwi. Our objective is to help micro-entrepreneurs gain access to the finance they need to start or grow sustainable, job-creating businesses. Crowdfunding can be a transparent and effective way to give donors the power to select whom their donations will benefit, and the revolving donations Narwi-Waqf model provides a foundation of sustainability.

Narwi is a nonprofit Islamic crowdfunding platform, which allows donors to support micro-entrepreneurs of their choice by establishing an endowment, or “Narwi-Waqf,” with as little as USD 25. Combining the power of crowdfunding with the virtue of Islamic charitable giving, Narwi provides financing for the startup and growth of very small, or “micro” enterprises, thereby creating much-needed jobs in the Middle East and North Africa. The MENA region has the world’s highest rate of youth unemployment, and the biggest problem that entrepreneurs face is accessing finance for their businesses.

In May 2012, Silatech joined with Kiva to create Kiva Arab Youth, a dedicated Kiva channel for crowdfunding young Arab micro-entrepreneurs. Since its inception, Kiva Arab Youth has engaged more than 150,000 lenders to fund $7 million towards over 5,000 businesses across the region. Narwi builds on Silatech’s experience with Kiva Arab Youth, utilizing its network of Field Partners while focusing exclusively on projects financed through Shariah-compliant loan products.

Narwi was founded in June 2015 by Silatech, a Qatar-based regional initiative focused on youth employment and enterprise development, and is supported by a number of strategic partners including Kiva, the world’s largest online micro-lending platform. Other partners include Kiva, Qatar Charity, AFIF, QNB, PayPal, and the International Office of Migration. The Narwi network currently operates in Yemen, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and Somalia, with plans to expand to Morocco and Tunisia, and possibly to additional countries outside the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

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