Baraka, a commission-free investment app that is based in the Middle East, has raised $20 million in its series A funding round.
The investment round had leading participations from Peter Thiel’s New York based investment firm – Valar Ventures. The round also received participation from Knollwood, a global investment firm.
In a statement released by Baraka, the company said it will double down on its presence across the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and Egypt, and drive customer acquisition.
Speaking on the intention for the fund, the company said it “will continue to attract global fintech talent to the region while hiring locally for key positions across departments.” Baraka added that it will spread its net, and explore new markets for expansion in MENA (the Middle East and North Africa) region. The company also plans to add new services over the next 12 months, including access to features such as dividend reinvestment plans and extended-hours trading.
Baraka was founded in 2020 by Feras Jalbout, who is an asset management veteran. Baraka is an investment app with operations based in the UAE. The company empowers people to become confident investors by providing educational content, digestible market news and in-depth stock analysis. It also provides access to thousands of stocks and ETFs creates the freedom to explore new opportunities. According to Baraka, its mission is to give everyone access to the markets, and empower everyone to invest.
Baraka’s CEO, Jalbout, said he grew up in Canada, where investment services were institutionalized. There, he was exposed to financial ventures like stocks and retirement funds. However, on getting to the UAE, he realized that people were more into traditional investments like savings and real estate, and this gave him the eureka moment that led to the establishment of Baraka.
“When I moved to the region, it was surprising to see that people didn’t invest in digital assets much as there were little to no provisions for that. Many people in the region earn tax-free income and don’t invest. It’s a big part of why I launched baraka because very few fintechs offered investment options. I wanted to make an app I would’ve loved to use based on my experience as a professional investor,” Jalbout said.
The company, being a commission-free platform, does not generate revenue from commissions, instead it makes money through a subscription service that costs about $10 per month. With the subscription, Baraka’s users will gain access to more financial data about companies, as well as stock reports from Baraka’s partner.
Commenting on the fundraise, Andrew McCormack, General partner at Valar Ventures, said:
“We’re encouraged by the early signs of traction that baraka has been able to showcase. We’re really looking forward to working closely with the company as they enter this exciting new phase of growth across the region,” he added.
Valar Ventures’s investment on Baraka is the firm’s first investment in a firm based in the Middle East.