By: Khurram Agha
Aghaz was launched in 2021 to improve financial inclusion for Muslims in the USA. Many of the 5.8 million Muslims in the USA are excluded from saving and investing for their retirement. Many available investing products are misaligned with their beliefs and the causes that are important to them.
It is not that Muslims do not have enough assets to save – an average Muslims household makes more per year than the average American household – they have about $120B in annual disposable income and over $20B in checking accounts. Yet to avoid unintentional exposure to elements like Interest, gambling, liquor, or the so-called “sin-stocks,” Muslims just sit out the investing field. Many buy real-estate or gold; others keep cash.
While their intentions are noble and deserve respect, this is a financial disaster for Muslims – with inflation speeding over 8% and earning 0% interest from their cash, as a group, Muslims are steadily losing financial power. Ironically, investing without compromising their values is actually possible and, in fact, might provide superior returns than the market.
Aghaz was created to…
Help Muslims plan, save and invest according to their values. Our mission is to improve financial literacy for Muslims and values-based investors. Aghaz launched in mid-2021 and has acquired 2200+ customers. While a strong initial start, we haven’t accomplished anything yet – there are hundreds of thousands of customers that need simple and optimal solutions for their financial needs.
As Aghaz grows, we have learned a lot from our customers. A key insight is that there is significant interest in the intersection of values-based investments like Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) and Islamic filters. In fact, research indicates that assets that comply with Islamic criteria have an ESG score that could be 10% higher than the average. In Malaysia and Indonesia, $756M worth of Islamic ESG funds were issued in 2021 Q1 alone. The global trend is clear – yet, the USA is lagging. This is the gap that Aghaz aims to fill.
An ETF product that blends Islamic criteria and positive social impact demonstrates a well diversified portfolio with backtesting results that consistently beat the overall market. Many other potential products which present above average returns are possible, including a fixed-income Sukuk offering that is also compliant with ESG filters. We are just starting to explore the surface of the opportunities in this field.
Check out Aghaz at https://aghazinvest.com.
Aghaz is registered with the SEC as an investment advisor. Brokerage services are offered through DriveWealth, LLC.
Read more here.