The Business Year

Mohammed Nabil Jaffar

KUWAIT - Economy

Islamic Values

Deputy Chairman & CEO, Faith Capital

Bio

Mohammed Nabil Jaffar is CEO of Faith Capital Holding, a Kuwait VC fund focusing on MENA e-commerce businesses. Before Faith Capital, he owned, Talabat.com, an online food delivery platform acquired in 2010. Under his leadership the company became a market leader throughout the GCC which was successfully sold in 2015 to Rocket Internet, the German internet giant. This deal remains one of the largest internet technology transactions in the Arab world and Talabat and Mohammed are recognised as pioneers and key innovators of the e-commerce space in the GCC. Following this high-profile sale, through Faith Capital, he is now promoting and funding a new generation of technology businesses such as JustClean, Kuwait’s first marketplace laundry. It is his goal to advance local entrepreneurs to compete successfully both regionally and on a global stage. He completed his education in England and graduated with a BSc in Economics from the University of Surrey.

“We should change the mentality of individuals by instilling within them the principle that we should do as our country does for us.“

What key factors are making Faith Capital such a successful and unique investment company?

Faith Capital was established in early 2017 to focus on investing in the technology space, predominantly supporting Arab individuals who work in the technology sector. Faith Capital has invested in six companies to date and we are planning on investing in another one or two before the end of 2018. It is anticipated that there will God willing be further investments in 2019. Furthermore, we are creating a new marketing team that will establish a solid and highly strategic plan to drive forward our business growth in 2019 and the subsequent years. What makes us different from other VCs is our active participation within the companies we invest in. We are entrepreneurs investing in and supporting entrepreneurs. We are constantly helping the entrepreneurs progress by advising and nurturing them. This includes HR, operational, and technical assistance, or simply by brainstorming ideas. In addition, we seek Sharia-compliant businesses as we want to put an emphasis on advancing business in a strongly ethical way. As Faith Capital, we believe that religion can lead to successful and fulfilling businesses, a strong lesson I learned from the success of my grandfather. It was this that encouraged me, in 2008, to initiate my own entrepreneurial journey. A decade later, our activities are flourishing and my everyday challenge is to keep applying these principles in order to create reoccurring success in business. On top of it all, we are blessed to be surrounded by believers, achievers, and people who share the belief that a business has to be equally beneficial for all the parties involved by applying logical Islamic values.

What have been the key changes in the Kuwaiti market lately that Faith Capital has had to consider when making its investments?

In this part of the world, we are behind the Europeans and Americans when it comes to investing in the tech space. However, over the last three years, this sector has attracted a lot of money from within the GCC. An increasing number of investors from this region are investing in the technology industry because they truly believe in its potential. The trend is moving forward in the right direction and as a result, Faith Capital will not be working alone as other players enter this space and start to gather more confidence in the tech industry. Entering the technology space is, of course, not without its risks and one has to have patience. At present, investors in this part of the world are starting to understand how the game is played when it comes to tech companies and the sector is therefore evolving at a fast pace. Governments as well are taking positive steps to create initiatives to invest in both tech and non-tech startups and to improve entrepreneurship among Kuwaitis. Even though this is recognized as a long-term process, we have noticed a constant positive evolution through the years, making us very hopeful for the future.

Have you seen any initiatives from the private and public sector to incentivize this entrepreneurship in Kuwait?

We have the Kuwait National Fund for SME Development where I was a board member for one year. The National Fund is continuously evolving and constantly improving. The aim of the government with this Fund is to improve and encourage entrepreneurship, as well as the ecosystem when it comes to SMEs. The economy is shifting away from oil revenues; it is, therefore of paramount importance for Kuwait to expand and diversify the general economy by investing in Kuwaitis and encouraging them to do business. At the same time, we should change the mentality of individuals by instilling within them the principle that we should do as our country does for us. Ultimately, the more we grow as individuals the more our country grows with us.

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