A pioneer of fintech robo-advisory in the UAE
Sarwa, the first regulated investment advisory platform in the region, aims to disrupt traditional, expensive investing strategies. The firm has received over $1.3 million in its pre-series A round of financing.
The funds raised include investments from major international and regional venture capital firms. The investors include Shorooq Investments, Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), 500 Startups, Women's Angel Investor Network, Hala Ventures and Saned Partners.
Sarwa is a privately owned investment advisory firm that combines technology and human advice to make investing easy, accessible and affordable for everyone in the region. The company's mission is to change the perception that investing is a luxury. It aims to make expert investing secure and affordable by using the best tools available: automatic rebalancing, algorithms combined with personalised human advice, account opening in a few minutes via facial recognition, and more.
With a low account minimum and a low advisory fee, Sarwa aims to offer customers the simplest and most cost-effective way to invest their earnings for long-term financial growth.
Nadine Mezher, co-founder and CMO, Sarwa, said: "This round is a bridge to series A and will allow Sarwa to hit milestones that will be a precursor to the next round of investing. Sarwa has previously raised a seed round with angel investors and Shorooq Investments coming on board as the first VC. The total funds raised to date amount to over $1.5 million."
Mezher informed that the new injection of funds would allow the company to scale up and reach more people by focusing on marketing efforts. This will help Sarwa grow its market base as well as expand to other markets.
With the lack of formal pension funds for expatriates in Dubai, Sarwa aims to work closely with the corporate sector to offer employees saving scheme plans and extend its offering from individuals to companies.
The funds will also be used towards growing the team - specifically the tech team - in order to continue providing a unique onboarding customer experience as well as developing the platform to include more features and adding more financial advisors to service clients.
Mezher said the UAE startup industry offers the best to budding entrepreneurs. She said: "The best advice to be given is the one we give our clients: Start now. Whether it is about developing your idea, working on your business plan, building your company or approaching investors to open a dialogue, there is no better time.
"A great idea does not necessary translate to a great business. Find an idea that you believe solves a problem, a need in the market and be passionate about what you are offering. You will need to be equipped with focus, patience and a business mind that keeps you on track and implements the best practices of corporate governance. This will lead the company to growth and high performance."
She added that growing a business is a continuous learning experience and refinement process. "We are always striving to better the user experience: for this reason, we do not cease to work on the user interface, the platform development as well as the service and product provided."
The company officially launched its platform in February 2018, onboarding its first clients under the Innovation Testing License - a special licence awarded by the Dubai Financial Services Authority to fintech startups in the region.
It has since seen a monthly growth of over 20 per cent and reached more than 1,000 registered users. The Sarwa team includes financial services icons such as David Gibson Moore (ex-chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank Switzerland), Prof Jiro Kondo (MIT PhD, previously at Goldman Sachs) and Samer Soliman (MD Network International).
"We're excited to close this round with the top VCs regionally and internationally backing Sarwa in its growth," said Mark Chahwan, CEO and co-founder of Sarwa.
"We have grown from helping out a few busy management consultant friends to reaching and helping people from a wide variety of backgrounds, professions and net worth. Our client base covers anyone that needs guidance in investing his or her hard-earned money. This round will allow us to continue leading the investment advisory space and reach even more people," he adds.
"We are excited to be a part of the Sarwa story. There is a growing interest in fintech regionally; meanwhile, the team is executing and delivering on its early stage milestones, putting the company on track to becoming a leader in this vertical. Sarwa is adapting a model that Wealthfront and Betterment have mastered in mature markets. The opportunity is ripe, given the large segment of the population that is young, affluent and interested in investing," says Wajdi Ghoussoub, associate director, MEVP.
This new injection of funds will allow Sarwa to continue its expansion and signals its commitment to building the future of investment in the region with the brightest minds and best talent from developers to advisors.
Shane Shin, founding managing partner, Shorooq Investments, said: "We are excited to see that so many people are literally waiting in queue to become Sarwa's customers as this validates our market thesis so far. We are honoured to be working with such disciplined and execution-focused company builders like Mark, Jad and Nadine as one team to brainstorm how we can build Sarwa as the leading robo-advisor platform in the GCC."
Sharif El Badawi, partner, 500 Startups is all praise for Sarwa's management team. "We believe in the fintech space and particularly in wealth management as people keep migrating their wealth online and look for technologically-enabled solutions to manage and build their wealth. We are very happy to be on board," he said.
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