Outward are delighted to announce our investment in IFG, the UK-based Islamic finance platform, with participation from B&Y Venture Partners and angels.
The platform seeks to provide Muslims all over the world with the same access to high-quality, suitable financial products as others receive from mainstream finance and fintech. We caught up with the co-founder Ibrahim to break down some of the key areas that make this market and opportunity so exciting.
Tell us about the team behind IFG and where it all began?
Since we met at university back in 2010, we knew we wanted to do something big, exciting and entrepreneurial – we just weren’t sure quite what. IFG began as a blog back in 2015 – me and Mohsin promised our respective wives it was just a harmless side hobby that wouldn’t take up too much time at all. Fast forward to late 2019 when we were quitting our corporate law careers (me at Debevoise & Plimpton and Ashurst and Mohsin at Squire Patton Boggs) to go full-time on IFG, and we both had an interesting conversation with our spouses on our hands!
Of course, they backed us, knowing how much of a passion this is for us. Serving the Muslim community and getting them financial access and education they wouldn’t otherwise have is something we care deeply about.
Mohsin and I can appear similar on paper, but we’re like chalk and cheese in terms of our skillsets. I love the content and sales side of things while Mohsin has a strong eye for detail and operational excellence.
Why does this product need to exist?
Muslims form a quarter of the world’s population and yet they are embarrassingly underserved when it comes to financial products that match up with their ethical and religious requirements. We don’t agree with the status quo and there’s a huge opportunity in solving it.
The problem cuts both ways. On the one hand Muslim consumers don’t properly understand financial products and how to work out if they’re truly sharia-compliant, and on the other hand financial product providers have no idea how to:
(a) design their products to be sharia-compliant
(b) then get those products in front of the Muslim community.
Sharia compliance sounds vague and scary but it doesn’t need to be.
We help ease the pain on both sides by educating Muslim consumers and making it easy for them to compare and invest into various pre-vetted sharia-compliant financial products. And we help the providers of these products (who are often non-Islamic and mainstream) understand how to unlock an audience that is about a quarter of the world’s population.
Muslims form a quarter of the world’s population and yet they are embarrassingly underserved when it comes to financial products that match up with their ethical and religious requirements.
Why are you excited about the market opportunity?
7 of the Next 11 countries are Muslim majority countries, and 90% of those joining the internet over the next decade are from emerging markets. These are the future middle classes of the world.
Right now they don’t have access to financial products – around half of the world’s unbanked 1.7 billion people are Muslim. We are sure that will change over the next decade, and as a market-maker and catalyst for this revolution, IFG is well-placed to develop deep and lasting relationships with its customers.
What are your main priorities over the next year?
Our core focus is on building, shipping and iterating on IFG Wealth, a platform that will allow consumers to discover and track their halal investments as well as join a strong community of like-minded others.
To deliver this we need to assemble a strong Product, Engineering and Partnerships team. We are very excited about the people we’ve brought onboard thus far!
Our core belief is that world-class companies are built by world-class teams. So Product and People are the two big priorities.
What’s the long-term vision?
We want to create a world where it is possible for Muslims everywhere to level up financially without compromising on their values. Our role in bringing about that world is to become the world’s most trusted source of Islamic investments.