Sarwa, the Dubai-based investment advisory platform, on January 10, 2021, announced expansion plans to Saudi Arabia, post gaining the fintech experimental permit from Saudi’s Capital Markets Authority (CMA). The company earns this after a year of having raised USD 8.4 million in one of the biggest funding events carried out for a consumer fintech of the region.

On the business front, the fintech start-up deploys a blend of technology and human advice to allow users to invest their savings in low-cost index funds. With an extension to Saudi, the company will empower both locals and expats to utilize the system to make investments.

Furthermore, users receive a recommended portfolio on Sarwa related to their goals and risk-taking capacity. Users can instantly open an account on the platform to kick start investing, for which Sarwa adds a minimal fee.

Note: As this is an experimental permit, the services will only be made available to a small number of users, restricted to Saudi for now.

On the investment front, Sarwa consists of different Saudi Venture Capitalists among its investors, including names like Vision Ventures and Hala Ventures.

Additionally, Sarwa also permits users to invest in a halal portfolio. As per information on its website, the fintech start-up comprises a globally diversified portfolio of BlackRock index funds that prohibit ventures from gaining profit from businesses that refute Islamic values such as alcohol, tobacco, pork, gambling, interest, and more.

The expert take

Mark Chahwan, Co-founder and CEO of Sarwa, explained the purpose of expansion and said, “As founders from the region, our mission is to make smart financial services accessible and affordable to everyone here. There are so many people in the Middle East who do not have the tools nor the know-how to start their investing journey and work to better their future. They do not have access to the right low-cost advice that can help them build wealth properly, and specifically first-time investors.”

He added, “When we received the call that we got the license, we were very excited to introduce Saudi to Sarwa and to long-term, simple, affordable, and smart investments that we are all about.”

The investors’ take

Ali Abussaud, Founding Managing Partner of Hala Ventures, said, “Since the establishment of Sarwa, expansion to the Saudi market has been an important milestone. Now with this being achieved, we are delighted to present to Saudis their trusted robo-advisor. Sarwa will help clients in Saudi plan, invest, and manage their investments as easy as a click of a button.”

Kais Al Essa, Founding Partner and CEO of Vision Ventures, said, “Investing for your future retirement or for your kids’ future is a critical financial planning step. Such planning is, unfortunately, weak in general in the region and in Saudi Arabia. I am thrilled to see Sarwa get approval to be available in the Saudi market as a new automated financial tool for everyone to use.”

Wahed, the Sharia-compliant Robo-advisory platform headquartered in New York, is another player focusing on the Saudi market. The company has raised USD 25 million in a round led by Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures (Wa’ed Venture) and BECO Capital.