UAE: Crowdfunding savings platform launched based on Jam'iya system

Several people decide to pool their money for an agreed period, one gets to take the pot home



by

Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Tue 23 Aug 2022, 2:49 PM

Last updated: Tue 30 Aug 2022, 8:42 AM

A young Emirati entrepreneur has launched a crowdfunding savings platform that hopes to empower women of all ages and income brackets towards financial prosperity by making micro-investments in real estate.

Latifa bin Haider, the founder of Baytuki, said she created the platform on the principles of the pre-existing Jam'iya system. Like a chit fund, the Jam'iya system is where several people decide to pool their money for an agreed time, and one gets to take the pot home at the end of said time.

“My grandmother’s advice was my inspiration – ‘Save your money, buy gold, and when you have enough saved up, buy land. Her words set things in motion, and the idea of Baytuki came to me,” Latifa told Khaleej Times. “What started as a personal journey for me became an opportunity to support women in the Emirati community,” she added.

Latifa said she spent a lot of time speaking to women in her community to try and understand why their participation in various investment classes was so minor compared to men.

“There were many common reasons – insufficient funds, lack of experience and knowledge, lack of time to invest and manage, and finally, lack of representation in this field,” she explained. “The women I spoke to felt that this was not for them and directly discounted the idea of investing in real estate out of fear and hesitation,” she added.

How does Bayutki work?

Baytuki is a regulated crowdfunding platform for real estate investments. “The website is user-friendly and easy to use,” explained Latifa.

Users have to create an account on www.baytuki.ae. Once the account is verified, they will have access to property listings, including all relevant information, pre-vetted by experts. “This enables interested investors to make an informed decision,” she added.

“If it is to your liking, you click on invest. You will be able to type in your budget, and the page will display how many shares you will be buying in that property,” said Latifa.

In the final step, users will transfer the specified amount to the regulated custodian bank account used to collect funds for said property.

Once the property is fully funded, Latifa said Baytuki would cover end-to-end property purchase processes. “As the property is held for three to five years, we manage the investment and tenants while each investor receives rental income as per her ownership percentage,” she stated.

At the end of the holding period, the company said it would facilitate the sale of the property and distribute the capital gains per the clients’ ownership percentages. “We collect our fees for facilitating the purchase process, for managing the investment, and later for facilitating the sale of the property,” explained Latifa.

Jam'iya is a trusted savings system

“Crowdfunding means that a group is funding something. In our case, a group of Emirati women are funding properties,” she explained.

The process is similar to the pre-existing Jam'iya system. “The closest word in English would be ‘cooperation’. This is where several people decide to pool their money for an agreed period, and at the end of every month, one of them gets to take the pot home,” Latifa said.

Introducing the idea of crowdfunding to the audience was not difficult as they are familiar with the Jam'iya system. “In the past, this was their way of ensuring financial stability for their families. The Jam’iya is a non-contract-based system that is trusted, and something women have used for generations to support one another,” she added.

How would you define 'micro-investments in real estate?

“Micro-investing creates an opportunity for investors to buy in for very small amounts in real estate. The investment mechanism of Baytuki, regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority, is shareholding in a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). The investors will be shareholders respective to the number of shares purchased.

“The SPV, in turn, will directly own the property. This is unlike REITs (Real Estate Investment Trust), in which the investor owns shares, not specific to any property, but rather the portfolio,” Latifa added.

Baytuki currently aims to empower Emirati women to invest in the real estate market as they are an untapped and overlooked segment, according to Latifa. However, it will benefit all those who do not have sufficient funds to invest in a property in its entirety, as Baytuki allows for fractional ownership.

“It will also benefit those who want to start investing but are reluctant to put all their eggs in one basket, as Baytuki allows you to invest (fractionally) in multiple properties, therefore distributing the risk,” she added.

Can men use Baytuki?

Baytuki takes on a female-first approach as women have traditionally not had the opportunity or accessibility to make investments, particularly in the real estate market. “Baytuki’s focus is on financial empowerment for women,” she added.

A serial social entrepreneur, Latifa is also the co-founder of Mental Health AE, a platform to create awareness about mental health and wellness.

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