1.2bn unbanked Muslims globally– Opportunity or Weakness?

Global Muslim Population 2013

In a twitter discussion with @GIESummit earlier today, I asked if there was a ‘solution’ to the fact that there are “1.2billion unbanked Muslims” globally.

Given that the global Islamic finance & Halal industries are growing at a fast pace, it seems logical to expect that somewhere in the multitude of seminars, conferences, forums & summits there would be some actionable traction in getting these two industries to converge. Logically if Islamic finance is able to provide the required financing of the halal industry, it would benefit, both, the industries & the organisations in those industries and impact on the global community including the global Muslim community.

Alas, such output is yet to be seen on paper!

The corporate side of Islamic finance marches on relentlessly in its growth. Resilient to the oft occurring global financial crisis. Yet, the retail side of Islamic finance has really not made similar progress.  It’s not in my expertise to argue why or why not as that’s not my subject matter expertise.

What is in my expertise area is the ‘ identification of the business growth opportunity’ this fact provides for both industries and connected to this opportunity is the entire area of organisational development, leadership, delivering value vs stakeholder profit.

Which is why I want to share with you this interesting conversation I had with the @GIESummit team (who is managing the Global Islamic Economy Summit scheduled for Nov 25th-26th in Dubai).

The statement posted by the @GIESummit team was– “Islamic Economy Fast Facts: 1.2bn unbanked Muslims globally”. My response to them was a query–‘Solution’? i.e. we know this fact, so what is the solution that the industry is putting forth? is the global Islamic finance industry interested to look upon this issue as an opportunity” or is the retail side of the business to difficult to execute ?

From here our conversation went like this:

  • GIESummit— “microfinance, crowdfunding can be two options. But also need other macro finance involvement. Do you have other ideas?”
  • JA–“(1)New product structures needed ie sharia based NOT ‘compliant’
    (2)Focus organisation objective to deliver value to community & not stakeholder profit only.
  • GIESummit–“Those are some good ideas for making benefits accrue to all. How to reach the base of the pyramid?”
  • JA--“The road to the base of the pyramid is a long one. Wonder if there are leaders and people interested in travelling that distance.” Here’s a few tips on the “how”:
  1. Leadership– IF I’s need to look at what competencies are required to create value for community.
  2. Education: for both industry people as well as mass public. Explain product & the value that product gives to the community.
  3. Get Islamic finance & Halal to converge–iron out issues so halal business gets the required finance & is halal end to end.

So do you think both these growing global industries & its captains are willing to take the journey to do business by providing value to the community and reaching them? Or do you think we’ll simply be doing lip-service?