Semenyih, Selangor 16 Feb – INCEIF University has continued to investigate workable initiatives to incorporate Islamic social finance (ISF) as a solution to address the socio-economic challenges, particularly in the post-pandemic world, and execute workable long-term projects to address poverty among vulnerable groups in society.
INCEIF President & CEO Prof Dato’ Dr Azmi Omar said: “Through impactful research which subsequently generates ideas and gives insights into the core of each challenge or problem, the University continues to look into unlocking the potential of ISF instruments. We want to find ways where these instruments can play an efficient role in addressing the challenges, from as basic as day-to-day survival to complex issues such as climate change.
“Ultimately, we look towards a future where ISF makes a strong case for Islamic finance and is embraced by the world as a practicable and sensible answer in meeting the evolving needs of the people and the planet. This will fulfill the foundation of Islamic finance, the Maqāṣid al-Sharīah, which is to bring benefit to mankind and prevent harm to them,” Dato’ Azmi said during the site visit to the pilot urban farming project at Section 9, Bandar Rinchin.
The project, spearheaded by the University’s Centre of Excellence Islamic Social Finance in collaboration with Maybank Islamic, commenced in late 2021 targeting 60 urban poor in Bandar Rinchin, Semenyih with a minimal investment of RM90,000. The location was chosen due to the readily available land, and effective local network which comprised the local mosque’s committee and Rukun Tetangga members.
A small plot of land measuring 800 sq ft, in the housing area at was turned into an aquaponics area where fish farming facilitates the soilless growing of vegetables through hydroponics. This involves a network of pipes connecting a fish tank, a water pump, and a plant bed where vegetables are planted in gravel as water is pumped through it.
Encouraged by the positive economic and social impact brought by the pilot project, Maybank Islamic plans to spread this initiative and has identified four new sites in two states, Selangor and Kelantan.
“The initiative specifically supports the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of urban farming and we developed it in collaboration with INCEIF as a proof-of-concept for Islamic social finance (ISF) instruments that can help reduce income inequality and poverty,” said Maybank Islamic CEO Dato’ Mohamed Rafique Merican who was also present during the site visit.
He added that the Bank is more than pleased to note that some of the participants have benefited well from the small window of opportunity given to them.
“We believe that such project can provide low-wage earners not just the opportunity to learn new or polish hidden skills but at the same time help them generate additional source of income for their families by selling their excess produce. A sustainable urban farming can not only enable communities to grow food independently but it can potentially provide opportunities for employment, entrepreneurship and social cohesion.”
Dato’ Mohamed Rafique added that Maybank Islamic was hopeful that this initiative would serve as a catalyst and assist local small businesses in creating a pathway for everyone to become more involved in sustainable farming.
“Maybe in the future we can even see more young people delving into this and become successful agrotechpreneurs and break out of the B40 community,” he said.
Maybank Islamic is now allocating a zakat fund of RM260,000 to expand this programme to the second phase which would benefit more than 120 participants at 2 sites in Kelantan and another two in Selangor.
One of the successful participants of the Bandar Rinchin project is Puan Norazlita Haliman, 46 who runs a food-based business from home but now her main source of income comes from selling ikan keli (catfish) from the six ponds she has at home. Recently, she expanded to provide downstream products from her produce such as Nasi Lemak Ikan Keli Berlado, which receives good order from the community.
According to her, her supplementary income from these activities can be up to RM1,600 a month.
Other participants are earning an additional RM80 to RM120 a month from selling the vegetables like ladyfinger, Brazilian spinach, tomato cherries, red spinach, coriander, water spinach, and celery. Sales from the fish pond can reach RM500 a month with the profits shared equally among the participants.
They also participated in selling the produce via the Anjung Murni Platform weekend sale with a supplementary income (self-consumption & sale) averaging between RM90 and RM210 monthly.