We see this years list as representing a real milestone for global Muslim startups,
as we showcase here a set of companies with real global growth, making serious money with committed founders and investors driving this market. There is still great need for committed seed funding in this space and we hope by 2017 we will be featuring a number of those seed and venture funds that are currently being built.
This years list is also more diverse than last years in terms of the types of companies featured on the list and where these companies come from. The United States leads the list again this year with 17 companies featured, 13 from Europe (including 2 from Turkey), 10 from South Asia, 9 from the Gulf region and 2 from Africa. We know we can do even better than this, especially in Africa, a majority Muslim continent. We were sent hundreds of companies to review over the last year and we did our best to focus on a range of companies from those who are ready for later stage investment rounds to companies who need the right seed funding and mentorship to grow to the next level.
FinTech — San Francisco, Kuala Lumpur, London, Istanbul / Investments — Raising Seed Round for more information see Salaam Bank’s Angel List
Industries around the world have been disrupted by innovative startups, but one industry that has yet to feel a deep impact in innovation and technology is Islamic banking and finance. At a time when Muslim youth are looking for global, ethical, and mobile banking solutions, instead most Islamic finance products are focused on a tired brand propositions that argue that Islamic finance is no different than conventional banking. This while offering technologically weak products, it’s then no surprise that most Muslims are not using Islamic banks. Meanwhile in the United States (Simple) and Europe (Number 26 & GetMondo) direct banking offerings (all online and ATM based banks) are taking off with beautiful mobile banking experiences that allow people to bank beyond borders without international transaction fees.
This is where Salaam Bank comes in. Building a mobile first direct bank, with the goal of growing into a tech heavy financial institution, Salaam Bank is building an Islamic finance platform that will give people from the United States to Jakarta, Dubai and London access to Islamic finance options that are technologically innovative while creating a bank beyond borders. Sign up today to gain early access to this platform when it launches:
Fashion & E-Commerce — Istanbul, Turkey / Investments — Raised $8.5 Million in 3 rounds from 2 investors
Modanisa founded by Kerim Ture has quickly grown his company Modanisa into the largest modest fashion company in the world. Headquartered in Istanbul, Turkey Modanisa has raised over $8.5 million dollars in VC funding with a goal of growing into a multi-billion dollar company over the next ten years. This year they sponsored the first ever international modest fashion week as they take on a bigger role as a leader in the global modest fashion space.
Food — Stamford, Connecticut / Investments — Raised $3.74 Million in 2 rounds / Key Traction Point — Available in 12,000 stores across the United States, $18.7 Million in sales in 2014
In 2010 Adnan Durani brought his vision for Halal food that is sustainably farmed, anti-biotic free, and 100% vegetarian fed, all harvested on family-owned farms to the US market, launching at Whole Foods locations close to large Muslim populations. Six years later their first brand Saffron Road is the most recognizable and widely sold Halal product in the United States while also being recognized as a leader in the premium foods market. With 713% growth over three years Saffron Road was listed as company 642 on Inc.’s annual list of the 5000 fastest growing companies.
Technology & Digital Media — Aarhus, Denmark / Key Traction Point — Serving 500,000 Ads per day across 190 countries. Halal Ad Angel List Page.
Halal Ad is one of the fastest growing companies on this list founded by Maruf Yusupov in 2015 their Halal Ad platform has delivered 500,000 ads a day working with 400 advertisers and 1000 publishers, totaling 50 million ads. They are quickly growing to be one of the worlds largest ethical advertising platforms. Using Google AdSense for Muslim publishers can create clear ideological problems when content featuring alcohol or sexually explicit content might pop up on a Muslim centric site, this is where Halal.Ad grew out of. This while creating a platform for Muslim advertisers where they can create an ad and distribute on all small to large Muslim websites, portals, forums and blogs with a single click.
Agriculture & Technology — Jakarta, Indonesia / Investments — $125,00 from 2 investors, also part of batch 18 of the 500 Startups incubator
iGrow is one of the most globally recognized startups on this list being named one of the top companies on the Disrupt 100 and listed as one of the top companies in 500 Startups batch 17 startups by Tech Crunch, MatterMark and Fast Company. Founded by Muhaimin Iqbal, Andreas Senjaya, jim Oklahoma in Jakarta, Indonesia iGrow helps underemployed farmers and underutilize land to grow organic farm funded by urban people around the world. They connect the farmers, landowners, and farming sponsors together to create farming, then they sell the crops directly to the buyers. Raising farming capital from urban populations through their website and while using gamification techniques like in Farmville so that they can virtually see their plantation grow. After the harvest time, they then share the profits amongst investors and farmers. Just from peanut’s alone, they have harvested 1,600 ton produces that bring 24% annualized return to our farming sponsors, and 99% of them reinvested with iGrow.
They are getting ready to launch their second major project in Turkey in the coming months on land that is farmed by Syrian refugees near the Syria / Turkey border.
The Halal Guys
Food — New York, New York / Investments — Traction — 200 Franchise resteraunts opening around the world in 2015–2016
One of the biggest success stories in the Muslim startup space, the Halal Guys took a product focused on Muslim consumers at a food cart in New York city and through their delicious food they have quickly become the largest Muslim centric brand in the United States. Founded in 1990 by the end of 2016 they are expected to open more than 200 franchise stores with branches already open from Manilla to Los Angeles. How hot are The Halal Guys right now? According to their general manager, Hesham Hegazy, “In one year we have sold more franchises than Five Guys sold in two years.”
FinTech — Singapore / Investments — Raised $363,000 seed round / Key Traction — Crowdfunded $2.6 Million dollars to build 5000 affordable homes in Indonesia
Ethis Crowd is the world’s first Real Estate Islamic Crowdfunding Platform. With more than 10,000 private investors Ethis crowdfunds investments in entrepreneurial, business, trade and Real Estate activities in Asia. In just over a year Ethis has crowdfunded SGD$ 3.6 million into projects
to build 5,000 affordable homes with returns averaging 10% to 16%. Ethis Crowd founded by Umar Munshi is headquartered in Singapore, with branches and representative offices in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney.We have processed.
Coffee — Oakland, California & Sana’a, Yemen
The founder of Port of Mokha Mokhtar Alkhanshali has a story that has been told around the world after he was stranded in Yemen as Saudi Arabia started bombing Sana’a. Ultimately he escaped on a fishing boat to Djibouti with just two suitcases of coffee samples with him, coffee from the thousands of farmers he had been working with in Yemen over the previous year. Who would have known then that those coffee samples would turn into some of the worlds most expensive coffees. The first company to launch Port of Mokha coffee is the $120 million dollar venture capital backed coffee company, Blue Bottle Coffee based in San Francisco. As the most expensive coffee Blue Bottle has ever sold, they have launched the coffee at $16 a cup and $65 for 6 ounces of beans as a way to support the transformation of the coffee industry in Yemen by working with Port of Mokha.
Technology — Singapore / Traction — More than 10 Million downloads
Muslim Pro is the most downloaded and most reviewed Islamic app in the world, with over 10 million downloads. Heavy on advertising and monetization, especially compared to its mostly ad free competitors who offer prayer times, qibla direction and Qur’an, it is most likely the most profitable Muslim app in the world also. Translated into 15 different languages, the Singapore based founder of Muslim Pro, Erwan Mace has built a great app with global qibla direction, prayer times, Qur’an functions and much more.
Technology — Dubai, UAE / Investments — $1.25 Million raised in seed investments from private investors
Since its founding in 2012, Hajjnet has raised $1.25m of capital from private investors. The Salam app is the first of Hajjnet’s mobile and web products, designed to guide pilgrims — step-by-step — through the Hajj and Umrah process. The Salam app has ranked in the top 10 in Travel in Apples App Store in 59 countries as well as being chosen in both New & Noteworthy and Best New Apps.
Education, Dallas, Texas, United States / Key Traction Point — Over 1.2 million Facebook followers
Productive Muslim is an online platform that aims to boost productivity amongst Muslims around the world. It started as a blog in 2007, and grew to become a media/training company that offers online classes & courses, live workshops, 1:1 coaching and group coaching, as well as a continuous stream of articles, videos, infographics, animations, worksheets, and webinars that help spread its message of the link between faith and productivity. ProductiveMuslim.com pioneered a new paradigm of productivity that was inspired by the timeless guidance of Quranic teachings and Prophetic practice and synthesized with the best of contemporary thinking around productivity. In January 2016, the founder of Productive Muslim Mohammed Faris, published his first book via Awakening Worldwide called The Productive Muslim: Where Faith Meets Productivity.
Film Production & Digital Media — Tampa, Florida / Key Traction Point — 36 Million+ Views on their last 2 Videos Alone
Peace House is a Tampa, Florida based non-profit film production studio. Over the last year they have produced a number of viral campaigns ranging from political videos about the 2016 United States presidential election, to their #NetflixListen campaign that got them a meeting with the CEO of Netflix Reed Hastings. For years the founders of Peace House have been working to launch a historical drama based on the life of Salahadin, the 12th century Muslim ruler. First they raised $80,000 to film a pilot on Kickstarter, then they created a viral campaign to pitch the show to Hastings and even had Netflix tweeting out the campaign themselves.
Fashion — Dubai, UAE & New York, United States / Key Traction Point — Offices in 7 Cities around the world: Dubai, NYC, Milan, Cape Town, London, Istanbul, Moscow, Dhaka
Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC) is the world’s leading modest fashion and design council representing the Islamic economy and its stakeholders. With offices in 7 countries and growing rapidly around the world, IFDC is a leading advocate for Islamic fashion and design professionals and aspiring talent, has an array of products, services, and effective training programs for all levels. Our platform is designed to ensure the success of Islamic fashion and design in the global marketplace as we facilitate the industry players in accessing the vast growth potential.
Online Advocacy Platform — Oakland, California/ Incubated by the Civic Engagement Lab and Foundation seed funding from the Ford Foundation & the Open Society Foundation
One of the fastest growing companies on this list MPower Change is taking on Islamophobia and other social justice issues head on in the United States using the latest technology in the online advocacy world. Founded by one of the top Muslim social justice advocates in the world Linda Sarsour with her co-founders Mark Crain of MoveOn.org and Dustin Craun (the author of this article) MPower Change is hoping to grow to more than 200,000 members by the end of 2016.
Travel — Singapore / Investments — Raised a $50,000 seed round from one angel investor. Currently raising their next round: HHWT Angel List page
One of our favorite startups on the list, Have Halal, Will Travel (HHWT) is a Singapore-based media-tech startup offering resources and tools to help Muslim travelers plan the perfect trip. HHWT is redefining the Muslim travel market with highly shareable social content and a dedicated travel planning app for Muslim travelers. Their primary goal is, “to inspire Muslims to see the world. We believe that through travel, Muslims are able to be ambassadors of peace. When we travel, we meet people of different backgrounds and cultures. Through interaction, there’ll be less stereotypes and misconceptions as the world gets to see who Muslims truly are.”
Skin Care & E-Commerce — Austin, Texas & Dakar, Senegal
Founded by Magatte Wade a serial-entrepreneur and advocate of positive change in business, gender roles, and Africa, Tiossan (tee-oh-sahn) is the first luxury skincare brand from Senegal. Featuring traditional West African skin care remedies according to their website, “In addition to featuring the purest, organically grown ingredients Africa has to offer, Tiossan products are crafted around a key ingredient , Black Seed Oil. Used for centuries by Senegalese Sufi elders and locally described as “The Remedy for Everything, Except Death”, modern science has discovered Black Seed Oil contains intense healing and anti-aging properties. It is a powerful anti-oxidant, an anti-microbial and super botanical that has been shown to have anti-carcinogenic properties. The traditional Senegalese recipes have been updated by the best contemporary green chemists to offer you an all natural product line with scents, textures, and absorption characteristics designed to cater to the most discriminating customer in the world.”
Food, Digital Media & Technology — San Francisco, United States
Javed Ali a long term advocate for the global Muslim startup community is back with his newest company, Urban Halal. As Senior User Experience Designer in tech in Silicon Valley, he is no stranger to the startup scene. A once pioneer of Muslim media with his award-winning startup and global media powerhouse, ILLUME Magazine, Javed is back with his newest company, Urban Halal. A first-of-its-kind social discovery and storytelling platform, Urban Halal lets users find the best places to eat, shop, live and pray. It’s a disruptive technology that aims to take the halal industry to the next level.
Urban Halal’s award-winning design and editorial team stitches together positive and uplifting stories of the global urban Muslim community through food and culture. Launching first in the San Francisco Bay Area Urban Halal is hoping to build on top of the success of other Halal food companies in the United States such as Safron Road and the Halal Guys.
FinTech — Dubai, UAE — Seed round raised with the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists / Key Traction Point — The Finocracy team is behind platforms that have transacted over $10 million dollars from a crowd of 150,000 users
Finocracy aims to establish a thriving global Islamic Social Finance ecosystem that democratizes access to finance by enabling public and private institutions. In 2016 they will be launching Human Crescent, the world’s first zakah-driven crowdfunding platform for global humanitarian support. They will also be launching Growmada to support beautifully created artisanal products from all over the world.
Education & Technology — New York, United States — Key Traction — Accepted into Startup Chile, MaGIC Malaysia and won the Prince AbdulAziz Award for Entrepreneurship
Millions of Muslims around the world make one of their life goals to memorize the Quran in its entirety or at least in part. Memorizing the Quran no longer has to be difficult or exclusive to madrasahs thanks to Quran Academy. Founded in 2014 by Bilal Memon, a Quran Hafiz and Entrepreneur who works with TechStars, the young company has released a one-of-a-kind Quran memorization app that is more than just an audio recitation tool. Their maiden app, Quran Companion, has gamification and learning technologies including flexible learning environments, guided lesson plans, a “swipe to reveal” game that uses proprietary technology, social-led group challenges and a motivational daily global leaderboard.
Consumer & Lifestyle Products — Dubai, UAE — Investments: Private Angel Funding
Founded by Peter Gould and Ansarullah Ridwan Mohammad, Zileej is pioneering a new generation of games, toys and creative learning experiences for Muslims. Their innovative, design-led products are loved by families across the globe looking for fun, meaningful experiences that uniquely reflect their lifestyle, values and aspirations. In the short time since they launched Zileej, they have already created one of the most truly global Muslim products on the market with the 5Pillars Islamic board games. They understood the importance of branding and design to create a strong global presence and today they have sold over 100,000 copies in Arabic, English and French in over 30 countries and 150 episodes of 5Pillars TV Game Shows have been produced and aired on various TV channels.