Question: Being a food news portal our first question is that does Halal means only food related as the first thing which comes to mind is food.
Answer: “Halal” means “permissible” in Islam. Halal is not just about food, but also about everything permissible in Islamic way of life. What has been allowed by God in the rules He created, is halal.
In the business world, Halal means what type of business is allowed, how you conduct your business, how you treat your team & suppliers, how you respect and honor your customers, how comply with the government rules & regulations.
Question: What was the idea behind setting up Halal Angels Network?
Answer: The idea behind establishing the World’s First Halal Angels Network was to promote Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Startups to tap $5 trillion Halal consumer market and may grow to USD 9.71 trillion by 2025. It was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic to help investors, businesses, entrepreneurs & startups to overcome these challenging times.
The Halal consumer has been identified since two decades, but from last decade, many have attempted to tap this market through establishing Halal certifications, Expos, Financial services, Manufacturing etc. but no one had the focused approach to tap the Startup Industry. There are two ways of funding a startup, either through Venture Capital or through Angels Network. In Venture Capital method, investors pool in a Venture fund and the Fund Managers invest on startups. In Angels Network, the Angels directly as a group or individuals invest in a startup.
We felt the best way is to create a platform where Angels and Startups interact in a way that we are not taking investor’s money in our fund and investing, this helps in reducing bias and responsibility. If we make a wrong decision in investing someone else money in a startup, it would affect our credibility.
Question: How long did it take to establish Halal Angels Network?
Answer: I have been involved in the startup industry since 1990, when I was a teenager, When I moved to Chicago, USA in 2007, I lost everything to the great recession of 2007-2010. I read about the Halal consumer and launched World’s First Muslim Spelling Bee competition and it achieved great success by the Grace of Allah. A personal tragedy struck, I lost my father and my mother also had a major surgery, I decided to move back to India. Started my life all over again and established All India Muslim Business & Startup Network (AIMBSN) to connect the Indian Muslim Community with Government of India Schemes for business. It has four pillars – Networking Events, Incubation & Acceleration Centers at minority schools, Venture Capital & Blockchain.
We when we decided to launch our Venture Capital fund, there was a major financial Ponzi scam in the Muslim Community, hence we decided to work on Halal Angels Network.
Question: Can you share information about Halal food industry?
Answer: According to BlueWeave Consulting, the global halal food market size worth over USD 700 billion in 2018 and anticipated to reach USD 1,060 billion during 2019-2025 at a CAGR of 7.2%. The global halal food market has witnessed a rampant rise in demand for halal-certified products in the last few years. The increasing population of Muslims across the world and increase in disposable income to utilize these products & services, it is expected to further augment the growth of the market in the coming years. With a large, diverse, and educated consumer base of young Muslims, the Islamic economy can be considered as one of the fastest-growing segments globally, where the Islamic economy is creating vast opportunities for economic growth. These factors are anticipated to be crucial factors backing the halal foods industry growth.
Question: What is difference between Angels Network and Venture capital?
Answer. Angels Network is a network where Angels and Startups connect on a platform and investments are made. Business angels are individuals, often successful business people, who are using their own funds to invest in businesses they like, whereas venture capitalists manage the pooled money of others in a professionally-managed fund.
Venture capital firms are highly regulated as they are raising capital from investors and then investing.
Angel investors and venture capital funds focus on businesses in different life cycles.
Question: How do you see the impact of COVID-19 on the halal food market?
Answer. COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone including the halal food market. There are two aspects to the food industry, first is hospitality / restaurant / catering business. Whereas the other is packaged food or groceries. The grocery segment is not affected as much but the hospitality / restaurant / catering business is greatly affected because of strict regulations and lockdowns.
Question: What industries is Halal Angels Network currently focusing on?
Answer: We have identified sectors such as Future technologies (Blockchain, Fintech AI, etc.), Modest Fashion & Cosmetics, Retail, Pharmaceuticals, Food Cafe & Restaurants, Processed Food & Tourism for investments. As shariah compliant investments play an important role, hence Fintech & Blockchain would be the investment focus.
Question: Is the food industry on radar of Halal Angels Network?
Answer: Yes, food is basic need and will always be in demand. For Muslims, halal food is the most important. Majority of Muslims always seek halal food. Hence, demand is not going to decrease but will always increase. In fact, due to ethical process of producing halal food from farm to fork, many mainstream foodies are embracing halal food. Post COVID 19 pandemic, the food industry would recover and grow faster, as people have been in lockdowns and containment zones for longtime and they want to enjoy their new found freedom.
Question: Are the investors all Muslims or there are non-Muslims also interested in the Islamic/ethical investment?
Answer: We are targeting Angels investors from across the globe and open to every community who are interested in Halal and ethical investment space.
Question: Being Indian American how do you see the American market about Halal market?
Answer: America is land of innovation, opportunity and risk takers. In fact, the first study on American Muslim consumer research was conducted by global advertising Agencies JWT and Ogilvy Advertising. As mentioned earlier, I had launched World’s First Muslim Spelling Bee competition in 2010 and that was the cornerstone to my career in Muslim consumer market. I have also done my DBA (Doctorate in Business Administration) and my thesis of Doctorate was “Impact of Word of Mouth on online purchase of American Muslims”.
Establishing Halal Angels Network was important as this was the tipping point from where we move from value chain from manufacturing, expos and basic investments to global initiative of Halal Angels Network because this type of initiative was never undertaken.
Question: What do you think is the biggest challenge for the Islamic finance?
Answer: The biggest challenge, for Islamic finance is that most of them are regional which doesn’t help in scaling up. From the last few years, things have been moving in right direction and I personally feel that COVID-19 pandemic would be the game changer for everyone.
According to the Holy Quran, “And, behold, with every hardship comes ease. Verily, with every hardship comes ease! “[Al-Insharah,5–6].
Hence, with this pandemic, Almighty would bless humanity to grow and prosper again.
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