Birmingham businessmen give seven-figure credit line to OFFA – the UK's first Sharia-compliant bridge finance company 

05 Sep 2022

Two prominent businessmen from the West Midlands, Sunny Araf and Janed Karim, are backing a pioneering Birmingham start-up, OFFA, with a seven-figure funding line for their bridging products. The self-made millionaires, who made their fortune in security, believe the opportunity to invest in the UK’s first Sharia-compliant bridging company is an important “win-win-win” for them as ethical Muslim investors, for OFFA’s expansion plans, and by enabling more choice for diverse customers in the bridging market. 

The Birmingham entrepreneurs are the first known British Muslim high net worth individuals to offer a credit line to a Sharia-compliant bridging company. The pair co-founded I.S.A. Support Services – one of the largest security firms in the Midlands – a decade ago. They have since diversified into other ventures in the region, including as angel investors assisting start-up and scale up businesses that align with their own values. Both men are also renowned for their generous philanthropy, setting up a charitable foundation and supporting an array of causes, from the Birmingham Children’s Hospital to Syrian refugees in Turkey and Lebanon.  

I.S.A. Managing Director Sunny Araf said: “We are always looking for innovative investments that deliver market-beating returns and whose ethics align with our values. OFFA does just that. Their management team have outstanding credentials in Islamic finance and are heavily involved in charitable works, so funding their Sharia-compliant bridge financing product ticked all the boxes for us. It’s a win-win-win that helps OFFA realise its potential, allows British Muslims to access finance in line with their beliefs, and generates an excellent all-round investment for us.” 

Sagheer Malik, Chief Commercial Officer at OFFA, commented, “It is fantastic to have the backing of such successful, like-minded entrepreneurs who are keen to support bridging finance for the Muslim community and beyond. First GII, and now I.S.A.’s investment in OFFA reflects growing awareness about the huge potential of the Sharia-compliant short-term real estate financing market, and the attractive returns that can be secured from property over a period of 12 to 24 months.” 

Solihull-based OFFA was launched in 2019 by property mogul Bilal Ahmed to meet the unfulfilled demand from British Muslims, who seek finance for their property purchases in accordance with their faith. Ahmed has assembled some of the most notable names in British Islamic finance. This, coupled with the firm’s successful entry into the UK’s £6bn bridge finance market, has attracted strong local and international investor interest. In June, the company announced that the UAE’s Gulf Islamic Investments (GII) had acquired a 51% stake in the business in a multi-million pound deal.  

The UK’s Islamic bridge finance market is estimated to be worth £500m annually. OFFA has garnered opportunities in excess of £178 million. The firm’s new credit lines and the introduction of new bridging products in 2023 is projected to help OFFA’s assets portfolio to grow to $1bn over the next five years.