With the global economic downturn, many have sought alternative ways of doing business. While Islamic banking was not immune to the crisis, it is one of the fastest-growing financial sectors. Nigeria is the latest country hoping to capitalize on the popularity of this non-interest banking. Helping to pave the way in Nigeria is the
Islamic finance company Lotus Capital. In June 2011, Christian Purefoy (CNN) interviewed the managing director, Hajara Adeola, in FaceTime on CNN.
FACE TIME INTERVIEW
C.P.: What are the fundamental tenants of the way you do business?
Hajara Adeola: The few fundamental principles, one of them of the most well known is the lack of interest or usury of interest. So you can’t own a return simply for having money, which is what interest is or rent…
C.P.: You’ve got one of the largest Muslim populations in the world in Nigeria, how big is the potential market?
Hajara Adeola: It is a huge market. There’s about 17,000,000 Muslims in Nigeria. I believe a Mackenzie estimates, research shows approximately 30% of the Muslim population typically would be interested in Islamic finance and if you look at the projection they made for the size of the market, it is really quite tremendous and that’s just the domestic.
C.P.: How much money?
Hajara Adeola.: I think we’re talking trillions… billions of dollars wealth of the market.
C.P.: What are the challenges that you face? The whole business phases, trying to introduce Islamic banking…?
Hajara Adeola: People aren’t really sure what is this Islamic finance, how does it work, is it really possible, how can you do business without interest? …It seems impossible.
C.P.: There’s a lot of Christians in Nigeria, a lot of Muslims. Does Islamic finance…appeal to Christians as well?
Hajara Adeola: Islamic finance is universal. There is nothing about it that offends anyone or offends their faith or their principles, if anything there are many Christians who like to invest with us because it’s also in line with their own ethical values.
C.P.: Business is good for you?
Hajara Adeola: Being through one of the worst financial crisis that Nigeria has ever experienced it is part of the global financial crisis and we weathered the storm remarkably well. In fact, our fund protected investors much, much more than conventional funds and that’s also because were investing for loss of fee.
C.P.: Can that work in Nigeria?
Hajara Adeola: It is working in Nigeria and there is a lot of interest in doing Islamic Banking in West Africa in particular, you have a lot of finance internationally particularly in the Gulf region in many jurisdictions that are looking for infrastructure and development finance projects structured along finance lines. So, the money seems to be waiting for these sort of projects and we need these sorts of projects in Nigeria for roads, or waterworks or electricity and so many other things. I am looking forward to the time when you say Islamic finance and no body says what are you talking about?
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