30 Jun 2022

Finance provider secures multi-million pound investment


Britain 's first Sharia-compliant short-term bridge finance provider OFFA is setting its sights on major expansion after securing a multi-million pound investment from the UAE 's Gulf Islamic Investments (GII), which has taken a 51 per cent stake in the start-up.

The funding will enable OFFA to deepen and broaden its presence in the UK 's Islamic property bridge finance market, which is estimated to be worth £500m annually.

Formed in 2019 by property mogul Bilal Ahmed, OFFA aims to meet the unfulfilled demand from British Muslims, who require finance for their property purchases in accordance with their faith. The Birmingham-based start-up quickly demonstrated its proof of concept, completing dozens of deals and garnering financing opportunities totalling £178m.

OFFA 's successful penetration into the UK 's £6bn bridge finance market attracted a variety of suitors, GII chief among them. The global investment house, which lists UK interests among the $3bn assets it manages, including the Lewis Building in Birmingham, recently concluded its deal with OFFA after nine months of negotiations.

Remarking on their majority stake in OFFA in a joint statement, GII co-CEOs Mohamed Al Hassan and Pankaj Gupta said: “Gulf Islamic Investments has a track record of investing in high growth businesses in the financial and real estate sectors. We are delighted to back OFFA, a flourishing Sharia-compliant finance house with huge potential. ”

The GII investment will be used to develop OFFA 's IT infrastructure and staff recruitment, as the firm gears up for the launch of Sharia-compliant retail and commercial bridge and long-term finance products in 2023. The funding, coupled with new credit lines and products, is projected to help OFFA 's assets portfolio to grow to $1bn over the next five years.

Bilal Ahmed (pictured), OFFA CEO said: “We are delighted to secure this significant investment from GII. The deal, which was nine months in the making, shows confidence in the UK 's Sharia-compliant short-term real estate financing market. This funding boost will lead to an expansion in both our asset book and product set, that should see us hit $1bn by 2027. Exciting times ahead. ”

OFFA puts the value of total addressable UK Muslim property finance market, including home finance, at £10bn. There is also growing demand for better Islamic finance products and services from the UK 's 4 million strong community. Research shows that four in every five Muslims in Britain use or would consider using Islamic finance.

The corporate finance advisors that oversaw GII take a stake in OFFA were Cattaneo PLC, with Shakespeare Martineau serving as the legal advisors for OFFA.