baraka, a UAE-based fintech startup that aims to educate, enable and empower millennials, has announced its $1.1 million Pre-Seed funding round, led by Class 5 Global, with participation from FJ Labs, IMO Ventures, The Community Fund, VentureSouq, and private investment from Dr. Abdulla Elyas, Co-Founder of Careem.
The news comes as baraka introduces its proprietary commission-free mobile trading platform. The app is aiming to officially launch in the second quarter of 2021, subject to regulatory approval.
Feras Jalbout, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of baraka said, “The retail investor revolution is no longer on the horizon – it’s already begun. Young investors in the Middle East are becoming more conscious about the companies and causes they want to support. Whether it’s backing organisations that prioritise diversity and inclusion, seeking sustainable investment options, or just helping their favourite brands to grow, millennials want a say in where their money is going. So, we created a platform that would allow them to do that, while addressing their two biggest challenges – limited access to US-listed stocks, and a lack of understanding around how they work.”
The app will provide access to over 4,000 US-listed securities, including stocks, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), and fractional shares. Users will gain free access to the mobile trading app, as well as the option of a paid tier offering stock analysis, with no minimum investment requirements.
baraka users will be able to engage through an in-app messenger and test their knowledge through gamified investment quizzes.
Kunal Taneja, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at baraka commented, “Building the baraka platform wasn’t just about opening a gateway to investment opportunities – that was a major part of it – but we wanted to make sure that we were offering a secure, social and enjoyable experience along the way. We’ve designed the app based on what young investors are actively seeking, and user feedback will play a huge role in the features we continue to add post-launch.”
Joel Ayala, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Class 5 Global said, “MENA has one of the youngest populations and highest rates of smartphone penetration and engagement in the world. However, consumers have limited options when it comes to investing, especially in their favorite US stocks, and the current offerings lack a truly customer-centric approach. baraka is solving this problem by being commission-free, customer obsessive, and a mobile-first platform. We are seeing retail and consumer investing behaviors change dramatically globally and believe baraka is best positioned to take advantage of these tailwinds in the region.”
Tammer Qaddumi, Partner at VentureSouq added, “The past 12 months have laid bare both the excitement and the effects of the financial markets. Share price moves of the highest visibility brands seem to be front of mind for everyone. By removing friction for individuals to access stocks, ETFs or fractional shares, we see baraka as a core enabler within a broader trend of decentralisation that is happening across the global economy.”
Calanthia Mei and Lolita Taub, Partners at The Community Fund shared, “Investing is an innately social experience. At the Community Fund, we are impressed by baraka’s community-driven approach in empowering retail investors in the Middle East. We believe that baraka will cultivate a community where the next generation of retail investors can learn and trade together.”
If you see something out of place or would like to contribute to this story, check out our Ethics and Policy section.