Disruptech co-Founder: Dina H. Sherif, Mohamed Okasha and Malek Sultan (Photo By: Matjaz Kacicnik)
The Arab region is a unique region. We could write about its distinctive historical, socio-economic, and political conditions forever, without running out of material. Yet, in the midst of this wealth of information, we want to zoom right in on a very interesting fact. The region has the world’s lowest bank penetration rate in the world – only slightly over 14 percent are in the formal banking system. If you think that’s what makes our region unique, however, you would be wrong.
The uniqueness only appears when you juxtapose that low bank penetration rate with an internet penetration rate that exceeds 100 percent, a mobile penetration rate that exceeds 100 percent and a smart phone penetration rate that was already at 60 percent back in 2017. This uniqueness is what makes our region, and in particular, our country Egypt – home to the region’s largest unbanked population – fertile ground for financial technology, or what has come to be known as “Fintech.”
This uniqueness is what gave birth to Fawry, a company established in 2009 by the Managing Partner of Disruptech, Mohamed Okasha, and his colleague Ashraf Sabry. Back in 2009, nobody in Egypt knew what fintech was, but everyone knew that there was a deep need to solve the problem of digital payments. Fawry not only tackled that problem, but it created a space for others to innovate and design market solutions to the multitude of problems that surround the lack of access to traditional forms of financial services by those considered ‘unbankable’ or simply ‘unreachable.’
In 2019, Fawry became the first fintech company to IPO in the region and since taking that step, the price of its stock has risen by 300 percent. Last week, Fawry became Egypt’s first tech ‘unicorn,’ born in the midst of a global pandemic and what is quickly becoming a global economic meltdown of massive proportions. If this is not testimony to the importance of this sector and the opportunities that lie within it, then we are not sure what is.
If you don’t believe that Fawry’s unicorn status and the birth of numerous rapidly growing startups in the space are proof that fintech is the future or that this sector will be critical to Egypt’s ability to achieve its commitment to inclusive and sustainable economic growth under Vision 2030, forget all of that and focus on one simple reality. In the midst of the global pandemic, Egypt and many similar countries in the region and beyond are finally introducing laws and regulations that will not only allow this sector to thrive, but will allow our economies to thrive by using technology to serve the millions of people who remain economically excluded from the system.
Further to the above, recent studies have demonstrated that providing fintech services to the unbanked and MSMEs alone can generate additional annual revenue in the billions. According to a 2020 CGAP funded report on the landscape of Fintech in the Arab World (https://www.findevgateway.org/sites/default/files/users/user331/CGAP-EY_FintechRegionalReport_ArabWorld_2020.pdf), the region boasts significantly high survival rates, making these companies attractive for investors. For fintech companies launched in 2014, 90% survived. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that the 2019 MENA Fintech Venture Report (http://mcit.gov.eg/Upcont/Documents/Reports and Documents_4112019000_MAGNiTT_ADGM_2019_MENA_FinTech_Venture_Report_EN.pdf), highlighted a total of USD 237 million that were invested in 181 deals since 2015.
The enormous potential that lies within the fintech space was a part of why Mohamed Okasha stepped down from his leadership role at Fawry to launch Disruptech, Egypt’s first VC Fund to focus on fintech and fintech-enabled startups in Egypt. Stepping down from Fawry at a time where it was clear that the company was heading towards a billion-dollar valuation was built around a desire help entrepreneurs who have entered this space avoid the same sacrifices and hardships experienced during Fawry’s growth journey.
Disruptech’s mission is to provide access to capital, specialized expertise, and the networks required for entrepreneurs in this sector to thrive and have impact on Egypt’s growth journey. This mission is reflected in the expertise and professional history of the partners and advisors brought in to join the team – Malek Sultan, and Dina H. Sherif who joined as partners, in addition to Mohamed Aboulnaga who joined as a Senior Advisor.
For the Disruptech team, establishing this fund – however hard it may be – is built on a solid belief that Egypt, the country that each of us loves deeply, cannot continue as is. We believe in Egypt’s potential, and we know that fintech is not just about financial inclusion, it is about economic inclusion, as a dear friend of Dina’s, Efosa Ojomo, from the Clay Christiansen Institute would say (https://www.christenseninstitute.org/blog/chasing-financial-inclusion-is-a-red-herring-economic-inclusion-should-be-the-goal/). Egypt is at a critical inflection point in its growth journey and many entrepreneurs are rising to the occasion.
Our goal is for Disruptech to be a solid contributor in the story of Egypt’s future growth and its embrace of technology as a critical and essential tool within that inclusive growth journey.
Article By: Dina H. Sherif, Mohamed Okasha and Malek Sultan
COP28: Shelter Afrique secures grant from IsDBI to pioneer affordable housing products
Shelter Afrique, the leading Pan-African Housing Finance Institution, announced a collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank Institute (IsDBI) at the sidelines of COP28. The partnership aims to develop Islamic Housing Finance Products to respond to the growing demand for affordable and climate adaptive housing solutions across the continent.
The Pan-African Housing Finance Institution has sought this collaboration with the IsDBI to create tailored products in harmony with principles of responsible investing. This partnership is timely as several African countries are making notable progress in developing their Islamic finance markets, presenting untapped growth opportunities.
Shelter Afrique recognizes a gap in the availability of diversified financial products at scale. As a Pan-African Housing Finance Institution committed to innovation, Shelter Afrique views the development of Islamic finance products as a viable alternative financing model to effectively address Africa’s housing and urban development challenges.
Mr. Thierno Habib-Hann, Managing Director of Shelter-Afrique, expressed delight at the strategic significance of the program, stating, “We are thrilled to collaborate closely with IsDBI on this initiative. Rent to own schemes are natural products for islamic finance, hence will be leveraged to address the large housing gap. In addition, this collaboration aligns with our commitment towards a dedicated funding thematics dedicated to ‘Green financing and Islamic finance”.
Shelter Afrique’s continuous efforts to enhance its product offerings underscore its commitment to meeting the diverse needs of its clients and fulfilling its mandate of delivering affordable housing for all in Africa. The collaboration with IsDB, a multilateral development bank known for its impactful initiatives in member countries, positions Shelter Afrique to pioneer developing and delivering unique financial offerings and structures for housing infrastructure across the continent.
In his comments on the collaboration, Dr. Sami Al-Suwailem, Acting Director General of the Islamic Development Bank Institute, said, “This partnership is part of our collective effort to promote inclusive and sustainable housing solutions through Islamic finance. The Technical Assistance provided by IsDBI aims to equip Shelter Afrique with the necessary tools to navigate the evolving landscape of affordable housing and urban development in Africa. We believe that through strategic collaborations like these, we can drive positive change and contribute to the continent’s socio-economic development.”
mediaReach OMD Nigeria Appoints Stephen Onaivi as New Managing Director
mediaReach OMD Nigeria Board of Directors has confirmed the appointment of Stephen Onaivi effective January 1st, 2024. Onaivi will become the managing director of the nation’s foremost media investment and management agency, known for its thought leadership and innovativeness. The Regional Chief Executive Officer of Omnicom Media Group West & Central Africa (OMG WeCA), Alaba Fadero, announced Onaivi’s appointment in Lagos.
According to Fadero, “Stephen’s appointment is the result of a careful succession planning and talent development program. He is expected to maintain OMD’s industry leadership and drive our regional growth strategy across the three critical global pillars of Client, People, and Capability.”
Onaivi is a homegrown, globally evolved professional who has been responsible for driving innovation across major brands, including Diageo, Airtel, Olam, Vodafone, Virgin Atlantic, Google, Uber, and GSK, to mention a few across the West and Central African region.
In addition to being the Managing Director of OMD Nigeria, he has a mandate to drive the OMD brand across West and Central Africa to enhance client value and ensure the seamless integration of OMD values, technology, and strategic processes.
Before his new appointment, Onaivi was the Managing Director of OMD Ghana, where he contributed to developing a multi-disciplinary, forward-looking media and advertising industry and serviced an array of national, multinational, and regional clients.
Reacting to his new appointment, Onaivi expressed confidence that the industry leadership and innovative strides of OMD Nigeria would be maintained under his leadership, stating, “We are proud of our thought leadership and pragmatic approach to providing value-driven services to our clients, and they should expect more with our team’s renewed commitment.”
According to Onaivi, key focus areas of OMD Nigeria will include innovation driven by technology and marketing science, the development of local talents, and enhanced strategic thinking to improve the agency’s value proposition to its clients.
Onaivi is a communication expert who has attended several management training courses and conferences from renowned business schools across the globe, including the Lagos Business School and London Business School. He is a keen golfer and a firm believer in the importance of community service. He is also the founder of the “Play with Stephen” golf tournament held annually in Accra, Ghana. The tournament leverages golf as a ‘passion point’ for key decision-makers to create awareness and support for Autism across Africa.