Want to Fund Your Business the Islamic Way?

Want to Fund Your Business the Islamic Way?

There are various Shariah mechanisms used for Islamic business and commercial finance: Musharaka, which means 'partnership'; and Murabaha, meaning 'profit'; Ijara which means leasing and Mudaraba which means sweat partnership

Want to Fund Your Business the Islamic Way?

Islamic Banks and financial institutions offer business and commercial Finance Solutions which are Shariah Compliant. Imagine a bank that funds your suppliers and creditors for a fixed maturity term in a Shariah Compliant manner. The bank never offers a conventional loan repayable with interest. You simply purchase your raw material and goods from the bank with a mark up.

Islamic Business Financing Solutions in an entrepreneurial community like South Africa has been largely limited and out of reach for many aspiring and growing businesses. There are many products and mechanisms for Shariah business and commercial finance but it may be difficult and confusing to understand the fundamental elements and concepts underpinning such products.

There are various Shariah mechanisms used for Islamic business and commercial finance: Musharaka, which means 'partnership'; and Murabaha, meaning 'profit'; Ijara which means leasing and Mudaraba which means sweat partnership. Depending on the model, the bank will add profit to the amount you pay back instead of charging interest. Shariah products are not loans similar to conventional loans payable on interest. Islamic banks and finance houses engage in actual trade.

Mudaraba: This is the form of finance rarely offered by Islamic banks, and is a mechanism by which capital and labour are brought together to achieve a harmonious and profitable end. It means the capital provider is providing the funding to an entrepreneur possessed of specific skills and ideas needed to run a profitable business. The capital provider (rabb-ul-mal) may invest through the entrepreneur (mudarib) needing the start-up funds.

Islam clearly states that capital as a factor of production deserves to be rewarded. Islam allows the owners of capital a share in the surplus, though the amount of surplus is uncertain and there is an element of risk involved. In the context of Shariah, investors cannot demand a fixed rate of return for their investment, and for this reason every case is examined by a Sharia Advisor to ensure it is eligible, and to calculate repayments of capital and share of profit. This is done both before the investment is made, and at regular intervals thereafter.

Ijara or Leasing System: This is a leasing agreement. Under this model, the provider of capital buys capital equipment and leases it to its customers, who may opt to buy the items eventually. In effect, the monthly payments will consist of two components: i) rental for the use of the equipment and ii) installments towards the purchase price.

Musharaka: This is financing through equity participation between various organizations, shareholders or partners. The partners use their capital through a joint venture or a limited partnership in order to generate a profit. These profits will be split between the shareholders according to some pre-agreed formula that is dependent on the amount of investment which each party puts in.

This financial instrument can be used in venture capital financing and is less risky to all of the parties concerned. In effect, all of the partners must come with some form of capital instead of only their skills, and this instrument will therefore not be applicable to a credit union where entrepreneurs have little or no capital to bring into the relationship.

Murabaha: There is usually a physical commodity traded and in a Murabaha transaction for example, a bank will finance the purchase of an asset by buying it and selling it to the client for a profit. The price can then be paid in cash, installment or deferred. The bank stands in between the buyer and the supplier and is liable if anything goes wrong prior to selling the asset to the client. Title to the goods finances passes to the bank;s client upon completing the sale however the registered title may be mortgaged in favor of the bank as a security for the deferred payment. The bank utilizes its own funds to open the letter of credit. Murabahah is the most widely used Islamic trade finance product.

Hereunder follows a list of Shariah products currently offered to fulfil various business demands and needs:

1. Islamic Letter of Credit (LC) - A written undertaking by the bank to make payment on your behalf at a determinable date in the future. Based on the Islamic concept of Wakalah, the bank is appointed to act as an agent on your behalf.

Alternatively, Letter of credit facilities are also available under the concept of Murabahah where you will be appointed as an agent to purchase on behalf of the bank. Upon receipt of the shipping documents, you will submit offer to purchase goods from the bank at cost plus profit basis.

2. Import/Export Financing

This product provides you the working capital to finance the purchase/ importation of goods and raw materials, etc. for your business operations. Based on the Islamic concept of Murabahah, you will be appointed as an agent to purchase goods on behalf of the bank. Upon receipt of the shipping documents, you will submit offer to purchase goods from the bank. The bank sells them on to you on deferred terms at an agreed selling price that comprises the bank's purchase price and profit margin. The bank pays the cost price of goods direct to the supplier and you buy them from the bank on a lump sum basis at an agreed date in the future.

3. Structured Trade Finance

4. Invoice Discounting

This product allows you to finance your cash flow and working capital requirements by selling your goods with a discount to your provider based on the concept of Murabaha. This product has certain limitations and terms and conditions.

5. Trust Receipts/Bills of Exchange/Bank Guarantee/Shipping Guarantee

6. Commercial Property and d development finance

7. Islamic Venture Capital and Private Equity

This product is based on Musharakah /Mudarabah where both parties become joint equity shareholders and partners in the business venture. All partnership mechanisms are agreed upfront including partnership exit, liquidation of partnership, duties and roles, voting rights, etc.

8. Islamic Treasury Services

There various Shariah products offered including Islamic forward cover, Foreign Exchange, profit rate and FX Hedging and corporate capital raising services. Many companies face serious cash flow and working capital challenges due to volatile currency movements and changes which are resolved through Islamic treasury solutions. Many companies require added capital to fund growth which can be achieved through corporate capital raising on a Shariah basis.

It is extremely important that the bank and client ensure that all the relevant stages in executing the above contracts are duly followed. Any default in following the proper sequence set out will render the transaction invalid. While many individuals sign up to such financing products, they must ensure that the terms and conditions, contracts and implementation of such documentation is also Shariah Compliant.

It might be argued that charging rent or making a profit is no different to charging interest, in that ultimately the providers still make money – remember that the Islamic Bank never lends money for a profit as that is interest, however the Islamic Bank purchases the actual assets and then either leases, sells or partner’s with the client. Therefore the bank is legitimately allowed to profiteer on such basis. Instead of making money through interest, Islamic banks will make money through profit or through rent when the bank owns the property as an asset. It is important to remember that Islamic business financing simply offers an alternative financing structure which gives Muslim customers different options to fund their businesses in a Shariah Compliant manner.

Legacy of Mufti Ebrahim Desai in Islamic Commerce and Finance

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