UAE-based fintech Sarwa has closed a $15 million Series B funding round, led by Mubadala Investment Company with participation from 500 Startups, Kuwait Projects Company, Shorooq Partners, Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), DIFC, Hambro Perks Oryx Fund, HALA Ventures and Vision Ventures. Representatives of Mubadala and 500 Startups are joining Sarwa’s Board of Directors.
Founded in 2017 by Mark Chahwan, Jad Sayegh and Nadine Mezher, Sarwa aims to revolutionise how young professionals grow their wealth by bringing simple and affordable digital investing to the region.
Sarwa was the first fintech company to be licensed as a digital financial advisor for young professionals in the Mena region and was awarded the first-ever Innovation Testing License by the Dubai Financial Services Authority.
Sarwa will use the new capital to further expand its market position and grow its team. The startup is also launching two new products - Sarwa Trade, a commission-free stock trading platform that allows investors to trade with as little as $1 on major exchanges across the world and Sarwa Crypto.
Sarwa has raised $25 million to date.
Sarwa, the fastest growing investment and personal finance platform in the Mena region with more than 40,000 registered users, announced today that it has closed a $15 million Series B financing round. The round was led by Mubadala Investment Company with 500 Startups, Kuwait Projects Company, Shorooq Partners, Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), DIFC, Hambro Perks Oryx Fund, HALA Ventures and Vision Ventures also participating. The company is a partner of the Hub71 community in Abu Dhabi as the platform continues to scale its services across the region. Representatives of Mubadala and 500 Startups are joining Sarwa’s Board of Directors.
Since launching to consumers in February 2018, Sarwa has revolutionised how young professionals grow their wealth by bringing smart, simple, affordable digital investing to the region. Sarwa will use the new capital to further expand its market position and grow its team, as well as launch several new products, to build on its stated ambitions to address all aspects of personal finance.
“Everyone on the team is excited to begin this new chapter. Thousands of clients already use Sarwa to grow their money and build a better future, and this investment will fuel our growth so that we can reach millions more. We want to ensure that everyone has access to simple, smart, and affordable financial products and services. Sarwa is built on the combination of innovative tech and a customer-centric brand. Having the support of some of the world’s leading investors proves that Sarwa is well-positioned to lead this transformation in the region. We will continue helping our clients build for a better financial future,” said Mark Chahwan, Co-Founder and CEO of Sarwa.
Through its mobile app, Sarwa aims to deliver more innovative personal finance products, such as Sarwa Trade and Sarwa Crypto. The highly anticipated Sarwa Trade, which is currently in the pre-launch stage, is a commission-free stock trading platform that allows investors to trade with as little as $1 on major exchanges across the world. Sarwa Crypto portfolios provide the same global diversification as the Sarwa Invest portfolio, with an added 5 per cent exposure to Grayscale Bitcoin Trust GBTC, the world’s first and largest publicly quoted Bitcoin investment vehicle. In June 2021, Sarwa Invest also lowered its minimum investment amount to just $5 from an initial $500 to reflect its commitment to democratise investing.
Ibrahim Ajami, Head of Ventures and Growth at Mubadala Investment Company said: "Sarwa is revolutionising the financial services landscape in the Middle East by offering a range of investment solutions to a large market that has had little access to such services in the past. In just three years, the company has nearly doubled its client funds and expanded its product base to include a wider range of securities and asset classes, reflecting the potential for further exponential growth.
When Mubadala looks at early-stage investment opportunities, the quality of the founders is of paramount importance, and we strongly believe that Sarwa’s management team has the vision and passion to lead the company into its next phase of growth.”
With a turbulent global financial landscape in 2020, Sarwa experienced an influx of new clients, leading deposits to nearly double. By investing on global markets through Sarwa, investors realised average year-on-year returns of more than 33 per cent for a balanced portfolio, which averaged out to 11 per cent over a five-year period.
“At 500, we back companies that are leading the way in changing the world. Financial literacy and inclusion are key to improving lives and building better societies, and Sarwa has boldly tackled the issue by demystifying investment and making it easier than ever before for young people to get a head start on building their personal wealth. We are fully supportive of their goal and continue to be part of their exciting journey,” said Tim Chae, Managing Partner at 500 Startups.
Mahmoud Adi, Founding Partner at Shorooq Partners said: “We are extremely proud of the team at Sarwa and feel humbled to be part of their great journey. As Founders’ Partners, we are always keen on partnering with solid dreamers who are shaping the future of our communities and economies. We believe Sarwa has demonstrated consistent execution and growth, as the leading regional Robo-advisory and consumer investing platform. We are excited to continue our support for Sarwa as they embark on a new horizon of product and market growth, capturing the immense value within the regional consumer investing space.”
Rawad Khalife, Executive Director at MEVP added: “Sarwa created a unique offering that has helped many grow their wealth the right way. Their highly localised product was built by an incredible team that is passionate about the mission of democratising financial investing in Mena. They have a rapidly growing base of clients with soaring retention rates, and we expect stickiness to be further strengthened as Sarwa introduces new product offerings soon. We are thrilled to double down on our investment and be part of Sarwa’s journey".
Ali Qaiser, General Partner of Oryx Fund said: “As an early backer of Sarwa, we have long been impressed with the management team and their strong ambition to build an industry-leading investment platform. We are delighted to be joining other esteemed investors in this funding round and look forward to being part of the continued growth and success of Sarwa.”
Hussain Al Marhoon, Founding Managing Partner at HALA Ventures said: “Since its inception, Sarwa has been filling a clear gap in the market. The main goal was to make investing in global markets effortless and accessible to nearly everybody, no matter what their income level is. Not only that, but also made spreading the investment knowledge an integral part of the business starting from its beginning. None of that would have been possible to achieve without the resilient founders of Sarwa, which was a key driver for us at HALA Ventures to continue supporting Sarwa ever since the seed stage.”
Kais Al Essa, Founding Partner and CEO of Vision Ventures said: “We, at Vision Ventures, back great entrepreneurs that change the status quo. We are delighted to continue to back Sarwa in its mission to democratise investment for the youth in our region. We believe investment literacy and planning are key gaps in the region. Sarwa is leading unlocking this potential so our youth will enjoy the financial success and freedom they deserve.”
Founded in 2017, Sarwa was the first fintech company to be licensed as a digital financial advisor for young professionals in the Mena region and was awarded the first-ever Innovation Testing License by the Dubai Financial Services Authority. Its flagship product, Sarwa Invest, was designed to provide automated investing in globally diversified portfolios. To date, Sarwa has raised around $25 million from regional and international investors, as well as government funds.