Sarwa, a regulated automated investment advisory platform in the region, recently closed a pre-Series A of over $1.3 million.
Investors include Shorooq Investments from Abu Dhabi, Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), alongside California-based venture fund 500 Startups, Dubai-based Women’s Angel Investor Network, Hala Ventures from Saudi as well as Saned Partners from Lebanon.
This new round of investment brings Sarwa’s total funding to over $1.5M since its inception in December of 2017, allowing it to continue its rapid growth, serving the region’s young professionals and underserved market.
The company officially launched its platform in February 2018, onboarding its first clients under the Innovation Testing License - a special license designed for Fintech startups to roll out innovative solutions for the region and awarded for the first time by the Dubai Financial Services Authority. It has since known a monthly growth of over 20% and reached more than 1,000 registered users. The Sarwa team includes financial services icons David Gibson Moore (ex-chairman Chase Manhattan Bank Switzerland), Prof. Jiro Kondo (MIT PhD, previously at Goldman Sachs) and Samer Soliman (MD Network International).
“We’re so excited to close this round with the top VCs regionally and internationally that are backing Sarwa in its growth,” said Mark Chahwan, CEO and co-founder of Sarwa. “We have grown from helping out a few busy management consultant friends to reaching and helping people from a wide variety of backgrounds, professions and net worth. Our client base covers anyone that needs guidance in investing his or her hard earned money. This round will allow us to continue leading the investment advisory space and reach even more people.”
Sarwa brings expert level investing to its clients by combining technology and human advice to create a user-friendly and fully digitalized experience at a very low fee.
“We are excited to take part of the Sarwa story. There is a growing interest in fintech regionally; meanwhile, the team is executing and delivering on its early stage milestones, putting the company on track to becoming a leader in this important vertical. Sarwa is adapting regionally a model that Wealthfront and Betterment have mastered in mature markets and the opportunity is ripe given the large segment of the population that is young, affluent and interested in investing,” mentioned Wajdi Ghoussoub, Associate Director, MEVP.
This new injection of funds will allow Sarwa to continue its expansion and signals Sarwa’s commitment to building the future of investment in the region with the brightest minds and best talent from developers to advisors.
"It is our sincere pleasure that Shorooq Investments is leading another financing round for Sarwa as we have seen how the Company has grown since inception - from idea stage to Fintech Hive launch to product launch and now on-boarding hundreds of users,” added Shane Shin, Founding Managing Partner, Shorooq Investments. “We are most excited to see that so many people are literally waiting in-queue to become Sarwa's customers as this validates our market thesis so far. We are honored to be working with such disciplined and execution focused company builders like Mark, Jad and Nadine, as one team to brainstorm how we can build Sarwa as the leading robo-advisor platform in the GCC."
Sarwa presents a clear, cost effective alternative to the current wealth management offering in the region.
"Sarwa is an excellent startup led by a great management team. We believe in the fintech space and particularly in wealth-management as people keep migrating their wealth online and look for technologically-enabled solutions to manage and build their wealth. We are very happy to be on board." Sharif El-Badawi, Partner, 500 Startups
“We have always identified a gap within the wealth management sector considering the high minimums required investment and high management fees set by many Investment Advisories which limited the accessibility to certain investors. However, Sarwa redefined that model and made it possible for investors to customize and access their portfolio anytime, anywhere and for a reasonable fee.” Ali Abussaud, Managing Partner, Hala Ventures
The company’s mission is to change the region’s perception that investing is a luxury and aims to make expert investing easy, secure and affordable by using the best tools available: automatic rebalancing, algorithms combined with personalized human advice, account opening in a few minutes via facial recognition, and more.
“At Saned, we are excited to support Sarwa in its mission to cater to the underserved young and tech-savvy population in the region! Sarwa's low investment requirement, coupled with a complementary team and a competitive fee structure, qualify it for promising growth potential. We look forward to seeing how this new platform combining technology with human intervention will shake up the asset management industry in the region.” Antoine El Boustany, Investment Manager, Saned Equity Partners
As part of its expansion strategy, the company aims to work closely with the corporate sector to offer employees saving scheme plans and help them reach their long-term financial goals.
“WAIN is pleased to be part of this funding round for Sarwa. We strongly believe in the founding team and the opportunity to disrupt traditional retail investing in the region through automation and access,” said Heather Henyon, Founder, WAIN. “We’re excited to make our second fintech investment and see massive potential for Sarwa to address the employee savings plans gap in the UAE and other Gulf countries.”