Ethis Crowd uses crowdfunding to invest in affordable housing

  • Syariah-compliant model helps marginalised in Indonesia and Malaysia
  • Project may get opportunity to showcase solution at Expo 2020 Dubai


Ethis Crowd uses crowdfunding to invest in affordable housing


AN ISLAMIC real estate crowdfunding platform, which is helping to provide affordable housing to vulnerable populations in Indonesia and Malaysia, is to get a boost from social impact programme Expo Live, run by organisers of the next World Expo, Expo 2020 Dubai. Ethis Crowd enables individuals to collectively fund and invest in new residential developments for low-income households according to Islamic Syariah law, which prohibits profiting from interest payments on loans.

Affordable real estate markets in Indonesia and Malaysia are unattractive to commercial investors and with traditional banking often out of reach for the marginalised, millions of families cannot afford quality housing.

Created in 2014 and headquartered in Singapore, Ethis Crowd enables public investors to collectively gather sufficient funds to develop affordable housing projects.

Typically completed in one to two years, the homes are then sold to ethical partner banks, who resell them to end-users at a more affordable rate.

Ronald Wijaya (pic), co-founder of ​Ethis Crowd​, said: “When I was volunteering to help flood victims in the slum areas of Jakarta, I realised people were paying high rent to live in indecent housing. I quit my job and co-founded Ethis Crowd to fight the crucial housing issue.

“For the past four years, we have been striving to address the housing crisis, house by house. Today, we have managed to provide more than 5,000 units of affordable housing in Indonesia and Malaysia. We believe our concept will benefit the government, developers, investors and, more importantly, home buyers.

“Ethis Crowd shows that affordable housing can be commercially viable.”

More than 20,000 investors and donors from 52 countries are registered on the platform. About 60% of the investment comes from Singapore, while an increasing number of investors originate from the Middle East.

The Expo Live grant will help the Ethis Crowd team grow and to provide homes to more people in more countries.

Expo Live is Expo 2020 Dubai’s innovation and partnership programme and has an allocation of US$100 million to back projects that offer creative solutions to pressing challenges that impact people’s lives or help preserve the planet – or both.

Organisers are looking for projects that would not reach their full potential without its support.

Launched in January 2017, Expo Live has several programmes. The flagship global Innovation Impact Grant Programme provides up to US$100,000 per successful initiative, to be made available incrementally as the project meets ongoing conditions.

Projects are also supported with business guidance and promotion, and may have the chance to showcase their work to visitors at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Wijaya added: “The Expo Live grant will allow us to expand our marketing budget, and therefore attract more investors. Becoming an Expo Live Global Innovator has boosted our motivation to work even harder.”

Yousuf Caires, vice president – Expo Live at Expo 2020 Dubai,​ said: “Ethis Crowd shows that anyone can create a significant impact, even with a small contribution. The platform demonstrates the power of collaboration, bringing to life Expo 2020’s theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.

“Expo Live is based on a firm belief that innovation can come from anywhere to everyone. This is a major component of our redefinition of what a World Expo can and should do: tap into its convening power well before the event to enable problem-solvers around the globe to promote innovation and build partnerships that leave a lasting legacy not only in the UAE and the region but across the world.”

Expo 2020 Dubai will take place from Oct 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021 and will be the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region.

It will be a festival of human ingenuity that gives a glimpse into the future, guided by its three pillars: Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. To date, Expo Live’s Innovation Impact Grant Programme has attracted more than 2,300 applicants from 136 countries.

Following a rigorous evaluation process, which included live presentations in Dubai, 70 grantees from 42 countries have joined Expo Live’s community of Global Innovators, including these new members from the third cycle.


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