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KUALA LUMPUR: Alliance Islamic Bank Bhd (AIS), the Islamic banking arm of Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd yesterday launched its first-ever social crowdfunding platform, SocioBiz, for financially disadvantaged individuals seeking to raise funds to start or expand a business, or learn a new life skill to earn a sustainable livelihood.

AIS formalised their partnership via a memorandum of collaboration with Islamic fintech venture builder, Ethis Ventures Malaysia, and beneficiary partners, Yayasan Kebajikan Negara (YKN), Yayasan Noor al-Syakur (Yanas), and Pertubuhan Kebajikan Islam Malaysia (Perkim).

AIS CEO Rizal IL-Ehzan said its aim is to provide an ecosystem where people can channel their donations to empower individuals to be economically independent through businesses.

“Funds sourced through this platform will go towards helping individuals be financially independent either through starting or growing a business, or through acquiring new skills. This charity ecosystem also seeks to address two key challenges for donors and recipients, such as the transparency of the overall allocation and distribution of funds sourced for charity, and the credibility of the cause or recipient.”

With a long term view in mind, this is one of the projects that was inspired by the bank’s desire to channel zakat in a meaningful manner.

“Our role is to connect communities to viable and sustainable financial solutions. For the first year, 100% of the funds sourced will be channelled to the recipients as AIS will bear all the administration fees. This will enable individuals seeking funding to leverage on this opportunity at no cost to them. This year, we aim to help raise up to RM240,000 for the different campaigns. We also pledge to match the contribution raised from the public,” added Rizal.

The AIS’ SocioBiz platform carries the tagline “Empowering Communities through Entrepreneurship”, which sums up its intentions of creating greater socioeconomic impact.

“Ethis Ventures is excited to partner AIS to bring to the community a social crowdfunding platform under, which integrates Islamic finance principles. Through partnership, we offer donors and recipients an innovative and transparent platform to connect. We hope to inspire more donors and financial institutions to partner with us and create an impact on other areas of need within our communities,” said Ethis Group and Ethis Ventures managing director and founder Umar Munshi.

AIS SocioBiz’s intention is to identify and promote at least two recipients each month on the platform. The role of the beneficiary partners includes management and verification of the shortlisted recipients. They also provide updates on fund usage and recipient status, as well as manage the administration of tax receipts to donors who opt to receive it.

In the future, AIS’ SocioBiz platform will include social enterprises that are focused on elevating or improving social or environmental issues, start-ups, and SMEs.

To-date, SocioBiz has rolled out six campaigns, and successfully raised over RM23,000 through its platform.