UAE Proptech SmartCrowd to Expand into KSA & Pakistan After $3M Raise
The unique crowdfunding platform offers anyone and everyone the chance to make real estate investments with tickets as small as AED 500.
While real estate in Dubai stands as one of the most active and prolific sectors, the ecosystem around it is still somewhat nascent, with only a handful of startups innovating the space. One such player brings together proptech and fintech under the banner of crowdfunding with the goal of making real estate investment more inclusive: SmartCrowd.
Founded in 2018 by Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed, SmartCrowd became the first fully-regulated digital platform for real estate investments in the MENA. The startup operates as a real estate crowdfunding platform that allows individual investors to take small shares in rental properties in Dubai, with investments as low as AED 500.
The startup boasts over 25,000 users and claims to have funded over AED 50 million in across 75-plus properties. That has translated into AED 3.3 million in total rental incomes earned, and now, they’re looking to enter into KSA and Pakistan, fuelled by a $3 million bridge round led by Riyadh-based Mad'a Investment Company, with participation from UAE’s Tricap and US-based Amaana Capital.
“SmartCrowd is leading the charge in fractional ownership of real assets in the region by providing its customers with high-quality and pre-vetted investment opportunities,” said Aziz Hashim, Managing Partner at Amaana Capital. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Siddiq and Musfique in their next stage of growth.”
That growth is partly down to the fact that Dubai's real estate transactions are at an all-time high, but SmartCrowd’s value proposition has piqued the interest of all kinds of investors.
“The average investor has been historically restricted to traditional asset classes such as shares and bonds and unable to diversify their wealth into alternative assets like the wealthy to preserve and accumulate wealth,” Said co-founder and CEO, Farid. “Now more than ever it is prudent for people to construct investment portfolios that withstand market volatility. For anyone looking to earn a decent return on a relatively small investment, SmartCrowd is a revolutionary offering.”
With real estate predicted to be the third most prolific sector in UAE after import/export and healthcare, there still exists lands to conquer in the country, despite the startup’s keenness to head further ashore. In fact, VC investments in UAE startups have also experienced an impressive 2022. In Q1’22, a total of $279 million were invested across the board, accounting for 27.3% of all MENA funding, while five UAE-based startups completed exits.
SmartCrowd’s unique alternative investment offering certainly qualifies as a disruption, though it’ll b e interesting to see how the startup’s arrival in KSA and Pakistan - two increasingly competitive ecosystems - will play out