When it launched in 2017, New York-based Wahed became the first halal robo advisor in the United States, and it has grown to provide access to Islamic value-based investing in over 130 countries, including Nigeria, India, Pakistan, and the MENA region.
Investing can be a complicated process for the 1.8 billion Muslims around the world. Companies that obtain their profits from interest, lending, gambling, hedging in silver or gold, insurance, pork, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and other activities deemed harmful or impermissible by Islam are excluded as investment options. Wahed employs a full-time Ethical Review Board to ensure the investments offered to its clientele are above-board.
The platform allows its users to securely create an investment account within minutes with the help of facial recognition technology, and then suggests a portfolio for each user based on their risk profile. Since 84 percent of its users are new or only somewhat familiar with investing, users can begin with as little as $100.
“Our mission from day one has been to give access to ethical and efficient returns to the underserved investor. We are very proud to say that today, no matter where geographically an ethical investor is located, or what income demographic they fall under, they will have access to an investment portfolio that is free from usury, or any unethical constituent,” said Junaid Wahedna, CEO and founder of Wahed Invest.
Wahedna believes his company’s rapid growth will bring more contenders into the market of ethical investments—and he welcomes the competition, adding that customers around the world should always be able invest in line with their ethics.
In the meantime, Wahed has announced that it has raised $25 million in venture funding in a round led by Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures (also known as Wa’ed Ventures), a venture capital investment arm of oil giant Saudi Aramco. Existing investors BECO and CueBall Capital also participated, as well as Dubai Cultiv8 and Rasameel.
The company has raised $40 million in total funding to date. Wahed plans to use the infusion to expand internationally and has already received a license to operate in Saudi Arabia.