An international Islamic banking group has partnered with a start-up accelerator program to nurture up-and-coming fintech start-ups with the goal of creating a wholesome and conducive start-up and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Bahrain.
Bahrain-based Al Baraka Banking Group, present in 15 countries, has engaged Flat6Labs to collaborate in a series of entrepreneurial and fintech initiatives, being the second Islamic bank in the Kingdom to have built a partnership with the regional accelerator program – Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB) in April signed an MoU with Flat6Labs to roll out accelerator programs for fintech start-ups (See IFN Fintech April Issue).
The growing presence of Flat6Labs in Bahrain reflects the strong political will by the government to elevate the Kingdom as a regional fintech hub.
“Flat6Labs’s initiative is one of many which are currently taking place in Bahrain to develop the technology industries,” affirmed Sabah Almoayyed, the chairperson of Flat6Labs Bahrain. “Our goal is to participate with the stakeholders in the development of the ecosystem for entrepreneurial innovation whereby entrepreneurs can develop their ideas into viable businesses and at the same time provide required tools and resources for scaling up.”
The Central Bank of Bahrain and the nation’s inward investment agency, Economic Development Board, are playing crucial roles in this endeavor and have identified fintech for Islamic finance as a key focal point – building off from the country’s global Shariah finance repertoire, experience and advantage. The active efforts by the likes of Al Baraka and BisB lend great support toward achieving the national ambition. Other segments the Arab Gulf country – once the Islamic finance beacon of the world before the rise of other Shariah finance powerhouses and the financial crisis – is keen to explore include crowdfunding, payment services, blockchain and robo-advisory.