Shekra was born in 2013 as an equity-based crowdfunding platform that tackles a clear funding gap that exists for small enterprises and startups that are too big for incubators, too small for venture capital funds and too risky for banks.
Since we started, Shekra has financed and supported seven startups across different industries -- namely an incubator supporting sustainable startups (Sustaincubator), an errands and delivery service (Ingez), an online psychiatric support service (Nofoos), a renewable energy provider (Ecotaqa), two online retail platforms (Minhena and Minbetna) and a financial service solution provider (Qptimizer). Another two startups are currently in the process of being funded.
Shekra is honoured to receive the Islamic Economy Award for "Best SME Development" by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the "Ethical Finance Initiative Award" by Thomson Reuters and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank in November, 2013. For us, the awards are a testament to our proposed structure (as we were only just starting our journey), our combined team effort, the initial startups funded through Shekra in 2013, and the anticipated impact and philosophy of this innovative initiative across growth markets.
These awards did not only represent a recognition of our efforts, but also strengthened our position as global experts in the Shariah-compliant SME financing and development space and placed Shekra as a pioneering brand combining Shariah-compliance and crowdfunding.
Innovative ideas that lead to pioneering solutions only come about if they can overcome challenges. For Shekra, our key challenge is the lack of crowdfunding regulation across the MENA region. Shekra, a startup itself, evolved in terms of pivoting the model to not just overcome existing challenges but also to increase its outreach to partners, entrepreneurs and different types of investors.
Building on our initial success and recognition, Shekra is re-launching as a MENA startups and small enterprises syndication platform (Shekra Syndicate) through which lead investors can engage with scattered and unorganised global public and private institutional investors, venture capital funds, members of chambers of commerce, business angels and crowd investors to co-invest alongside them.
We are also expanding our reach beyond the MENA region and venturing into Malaysia, which has taken on a pioneering role as the first OIC country to finalise a law for conventional and Shariah-compliant crowdfunding platforms. Shekra is partnering with Malaysian institutions to found Shekra Asia, which, if it is successfully established, will be the first regulated global Shariah-compliant crowdfunding platform to be licensed by the Securities Commission Malaysia focusing on providing funding for small enterprises and startups in Malaysia.
Our strong belief in the positive power of capital and the ability to grow as an organisation through promoting inclusive growth is the key driver of Shekra and the team.