Over the years, many Islamic finance practitioners kept appealing for the emergence of Shariah compliant venture capital and private equity funds to support Islamic tech. Largely, it had not happened — the number of active Shariah compliant funds is still under 1% of their conventional equivalents.

On the other hand, we all know the time-proven expression by Dan Xiaoping: “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice”. Rephrasing — it does not matter whether the fund is Shariah compliant or conventional, as long as it promotes the development of the Islamic economy.


Photo by Inge Maria on Unsplash

Over the previous months we have on numerous occasions discussed the shortage of exclusive Shariah compliant private equity (PE) and venture capital funds. And then, the 2021 came about.

February 2021 — A call from the South East Asia — Malaysia’s largest pension fund, Employee Provident Fund (EPF), announced the launching of the largest Shariah compliant fund and the first Shariah private equity direct/co-investment separately managed account with BlackRock, HarbourVest Partners and Partners Group. The fund’s size was to reach US$600 million (RM2.43 billion).


Building up national Champions to grow Islamic economy

Photo by Adli Wahid on Unsplash

There is nothing wrong with adapting efficient and successful modi operandi from the world of the conventional finance. Well, at least as long as they become and/or stay Shariah compliant.

Many well-off governments of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries had officially declared their support for the Islamic economy on numerous occasions. But aside from Malaysia, there seems to be very little debt and equity support for Shariah compliant businesses coming from the countries’ budgets.


We are familiar with the notion that 9 out every 10 startups fail. It is a fact of life, and it is not exactly a bad thing. The world must be saved from another Pets.com-like projects, and we end up getting more experienced entrepreneurs that learned from their mistakes.

Many projects fail before they get a chance to become startups. …


The ratings of the Top-10 highest paid royals

Mel Brooks as Louis XIV — photo by UST

The great Mel Brook played Louis XIV in the epical comedy “World History. Part 1”. His character is well remembered for his key phase announced repeatedly — “It’s good to be the King”. But is it really good to be the king, queen, sultan, or any other royal?

Well, sometimes, it is a well-paid job.

Please see the list of the top 10 best paid sovereigns:

1. $9.6 billion — Saudi Arabia


Central Mosque, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Many of the countries that are trying to develop Islamic finance keep making the same mistake — they believe that the faith is most important factor, and that the people are prepared to pay extra for new and unfamiliar services, as long as they are Shariah complaint. It may happen this way, but most often it doesn’t. The customers have their family members to feed, clothe and care about. …


A Sukuk is an Islamic financial certificate, similar to a bond in Western finance, that complies with Islamic religious law commonly known as Sharia

Photo by Ali Arif Soydaş on Unsplash

Having taken part in many of the COVID19-induced Zoom conferences last year, I learned that many of my colleagues do not consider Sukuk as viable funding option for Islamic startups. I am going to illustrate a different view since the startup universe does not consist only of garage-based entities with a few guys and an idea written on the whiteboard.

Our conventional finance peers would not hesitate twice in offering venture debt to entrepreneurs. If a…


Astana, Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan became the first of the former USSR countries to legislate Islamic finance.

On February 12, 2009 the law on Islamic banks and Islamic finance was adopted. Over the next 12 years several amendments had also been introduced. The law had mandated every Islamic bank to have a Shariah Board to oversee their activities. Islamic securities could now be issued by specialized finance companies. And a whole range of Islamic finance transactions, including even the Tawarruq, had now been authorized.

The development of Islamic finance in Kazakhstan went from top down. All legislative changes were initiated by the President himself…


A handbook for the US State Department

Firstly — it can be done. Secondly — it can be done peacefully with the full support of the world community.

The precious Greenland is controlled by the Kingdom of Denmark (remember Hamlet? He was from around there). According to the FT Alphaville, the island stores some $300 billion worth of oil and $200 billion worth of real estate. But there are three ingredients that make Greenland totally irresistible:

· the rare earth minerals worth up to $700 billion. These are the fancy metals, like cerium, neodymium, and some other samariums that are…


“Unsuccessful startups are all alike, every successful startup is successful in its own way” — Leo Tolstoy (a free translation). Last month I had a unique opportunity to witness first-hand the operations of Uzbekistan’s most successful Islamic fintech — Alif Moliya. Having done consulting for Islamic fintechs around the world, I always qualify their unique features, to understand how they travel from survival and obscurity to prosperity. As for any other business, the performance of an Islamic fintech company is a function of market, product, team and funding. …

Vladimir Malenko

A former Medical Doctor turned VC/PE enthusiast

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