Funding boost to fuel Saudi SME sector

Funding boost to fuel Saudi SME sector
Updated 14 November 2019

Funding boost to fuel Saudi SME sector

Funding boost to fuel Saudi SME sector

Bab Rizq Jameel Microfinance Company has teamed up with Kafalah, the Saudi government’s SME financing program, to work together to support small and medium enterprises in Saudi Arabia and help get their businesses off the ground.

The agreement was signed by Hamam Hashem, director-general of Kafala, and Abdelrahman Alfehaid, executive director of Bab Rizq Jameel Microfinance. 

The agreement is aimed at supporting Bab Rizq Jameel in offering finance for microenterprises by providing financial guarantees covering part of the risks associated with financing, in accordance with the Shariah committee-approved formats. In addition, the agreement aims at providing all the necessary services to microenterprises to help them thrive and achieve their ambitions.


Kafalah provides assurances and financial guarantees to lenders on behalf of SMEs, allowing businesses with viable concepts and business models to take their companies to the next level. 

The two entities will also conduct research to identify the best ways of cooperation, with the aim of providing joint training and awareness programs to develop the SME sector. The agreement also aims to attract a new group of beneficiaries who have never dealt with financial institutions before, with the aim of helping the microenterprise sector play an important role in the national economy by contributing to the creation of new jobs. 

Kafalah provides assurances and financial guarantees to lenders on behalf of SMEs, allowing businesses with viable concepts and business models to take their companies to the next level. With a proven record in supporting entrepreneurs, Bab Rizq Jameel Microfinance is the ideal partner. It is the first Saudi company licensed to practice microfinance in Saudi Arabia and has branches across the Kingdom. The company operates in accordance with the guidelines of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority and has a successful history in the management and provision of finance to SMEs and other beneficiaries.

Alfehaid said: “We have 16 years’ experience in microfinance and have provided interest-free funding to more than 300,000 beneficiaries, to a total value of more than SR2 billion ($530 million). 

“In signing this agreement with Kafalah, we want to explore possible means of collaboration to support young Saudi men and women by offering soft loans, which will enable them to establish promising projects and contribute to job creation and social and economic development.”

Bab Rizq Jameel Microfinance Company supports small enterprises by offering various Shariah-compliant products with easy payment plans for young Saudi men and women.

Those eligible to receive financial support must have existing enterprises or ideas and proven entrepreneurial skills. The company works closely with applicants and provides a range of financial products to help customers meet specific needs. 

‘KAUST Challenge’ seeks tech ideas for Hajj & Umrah

Updated 03 December 2020

‘KAUST Challenge’ seeks tech ideas for Hajj & Umrah

‘KAUST Challenge’ seeks tech ideas for Hajj & Umrah

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) has launched a new campaign to catalyze research, innovation, economic development and social prosperity in Saudi Arabia through new crowdsourcing initiatives that challenge local and international talents to identify ideas and solutions that advance the Kingdom’s national priorities and support Vision 2030. With the “KAUST Challenge,” the university is seeking to develop and support bold science, technology, and engineering initiatives that aim to transform the lives of Saudis and develop Saudi talents.

“We wish to draw on the participative power of crowdsourcing to solve problems faced in the Kingdom and the world with the KAUST Challenge,” said Najah Ashry, vice president for strategic national advancement at KAUST. “The speed, flexibility and scalability of crowdsourcing will bring us new science-based ideas and solutions that can be further developed through deep collaboration with players in the Kingdom’s research-development-innovation ecosystem.”

The focus of the inaugural 2020 edition of the KAUST Challenge is on improving the Hajj and Umrah experience for pilgrims from all over the world and on advancing efforts to make Makkah a smart city. The KAUST Challenge will play an active role in advancing one of the Kingdom’s national priorities of better serving the increasing number of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims and improving their experiences in the two holy cities. It will identify and support science- and technology-based ideas and solutions that can move quickly into the market for SR1 million ($266,000) in cash and other prizes. The challenge spans three themes: Healthcare, to increase preventative measures to ensure health and well-being for all pilgrims, a concern augmented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; mobility to ensure adequate availability and access to public and private transportation; and crowd management, to enhance infrastructure to meet capacity requirements for large crowds.

To gather valuable inputs from this challenge, KAUST is targeting a wide group of national and international participants to submit their ideas and solutions, including startups (growth stage startups or scaleups with solutions proven by the market), innovators (seed startups and IP-holders with ideas or solutions yet to be fully market tasted), and general public (students, academics, entrepreneurs and individuals in society).

“Advances in high technology can assist in solving the challenges that Hajj and Umrah pilgrims face. We know that people here in Saudi Arabia and across the world have great solutions to contribute,” said Ashry. “We are excited to receive their submissions and to offer our neighbors in Makkah creative and unique ideas that we hope will serve all pilgrims.

Submission to the KAUST Challenge is now open and will run until Jan. 5, 2021 with a virtual final event that will take place on an immersive platform at the end of February 2021, where the three best ideas, one for each theme, will be selected by a panel of qualified judges and one grand prize will be awarded.