Dubai-based real estate crowdfunding investment platform Baytuki is considering seeking Shariah compliance for its offering to better appeal to Muslim and ethical women investors in the UAE.
“Baytuki currently does not provide [Shariah compliant investments] due to the rigorous licensing procedures. However, we aim to pursue it in the future,” Latifa bin Haider, the founder of Baytuki, told IFN Fintech, adding that she does not anticipate any push back in transitioning toward Shariah compliance.
Founded in 2021, Baytuki is one of three property crowdfunding platforms licensed by the Dubai Financial Services Authority. Unlike its peers, it focuses solely on Emirati female investors, allowing them to invest at a minimum of AED5,000 (US$3,683.54).
Inspired by her grandmother’s advice – “Save your money, buy gold; and when you have enough saved up, buy land” – Latifa put pen to paper the concept of Baytuki in 2020 before seeking to be regulated in the Dubai International Financial Center.
“I’ve spent a lot of time speaking to women to try and understand why their participation in various investment classes was so little as compared to men. There were many common reasons – insufficient funds, lack of experience or knowledge, lack of time to invest and then manage, and finally, lack of representation in this field,” Latifa explained. “Due to these reasons, women in general felt that this was not for them and directly discounted the idea of investing in real estate, out of fear and hesitation. The need is there, and the potential is great yet untapped.”
Historically, women have largely been excluded from the world of finance and investment due to, among others, traditional gender roles (where family finances were typically handled by men) and gender pay gap disparities.
There are signs that this gender divide, while still wide, is however gradually narrowing. As women become more active workforce participants, and supported by the boom in technology-driven investment platforms, more women are becoming engaged in personal finance and money management in ways previous generations were not.
According to Fidelity’s 2021 Women and Investing Study, 67% of women are now investing outside of retirement, a jump from 44% in 2018. Research by Islamic savings and investment company National Bonds found that although more than half (52.5%) of Emirati women are not invested in the financial markets, a majority of women nonetheless indicated a “high desire to invest”, noting “saving for the future” as the top reason to invest.
Digital investment management platform StashAway, which launched in Dubai in November 2020, expects to see women account for 50% of signups, driven by a steady growth in women users. Roundup investing platform Nutmeg also observed a stark shift during the COVID-19 pandemic: in 2020, 40% of its new investors were women.
Baytuki has over 200 clients in the pipeline awaiting verification, Latifa confirmed.
“We will continuously strive to deliver to our Emirati clientele. For the expansion plans, we will be ramping up our efforts to gain traction and furthering our strategic direction.”