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Sadia Karim

MM talks with Sadia Karim, the creator of Yurizk™, the first and so far only online interactive directory of global providers of Islamic Finance courses, certifications, degrees, training and workshops. Yurizk™’s mission is “to accelerate and facilitate the process of creating qualified professionals in the Islamic Finance industry and to make people in every corner of the world aware of the concept of Islamic Finance.”

MM: Could you tell us briefly your aspirations for the Islamic economy? Sadia: First of all, thank you for allowing me to share my perspective with your audience. My aspiration for the Islamic economy is to leave a legacy towards establishing a global economic system which is driven by universally shared and upheld values such as justice, morality and ethics based on the principles laid out by the sources of Islamic Legal Jurisprudence in order to benefit not just Muslims but all of humanity. MM: You are the founder of Yurizk. What made you launch Yurizk and how do you see your progress? Sadia: Before launching Yurizk, I was helping a family member look for Islamic Finance courses. While researching that online, I saw that it was not easy to find what I was looking for. There was no dedicated website where I could find a list of institutions 44 Islamic Banker Asia April 2014

offering such courses and providing their details. I saw that gap and while I was doing more research in Islamic Finance, I became very interested in the industry and decided to do something that could contribute to the cause of Islamic Finance in general. After several years, when I was ready to launch an entrepreneurial venture, I decided to focus on Islamic Finance education and awareness. To start, I wanted to bridge the information gap. So in 2012, after much research and collection of a huge amount of data on Islamic Finance education providers, I launched Yurizk as a dedicated online portal or directory to bridge the information gap for global Islamic Finance education. The objective was to facilitate and accelerate the process of developing human capital for the industry, which has been a critical need. The approach was to minimise the time and effort of individuals who

were actively looking for Islamic Finance education, and to bridge the gap between education providers and education seekers. However, there is a lot still to be done as the whole industry is faced with numerous challenges. Human capital is just one but critical aspect of those challenges. In terms of progress with these objectives, Yurizk managed to draw active users from over 118 countries within 2 years of inception. Our subscription has been increasing at a consistent rate, affirming the increasing demand for and interest in Islamic Finance and its education services. Yurizk also created a platform for education providers to promote their courses. Leveraging Yurizk’s strong network and promotional services, they are now able to reach new market segments, regions which were previously untapped. We see these as examples of progress for Yurizk’s

broader mission of raising global awareness and as a disseminator of educational resources on Islamic Finance. In addition, we created a research service to provide the industry with critical knowledge backed by numerical data. Our Global Islamic Finance Education 2013 that we released last year is our first report. It has been recognised as a critical contribution to the Islamic Finance education sector by respected authorities and practitioners in the industry and was referenced in major news and media outlets, including the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report by Thomson Reuters/DinarStandard. MM: What is Yurizk’s vision and how do you provide solutions to the industry? Sadia: Yurizk’s vision is to be a leading contributor in facilitating the establishment of a globally sustainable economic system with universally shared values and that will provide tangible solutions to the widespread economic problems we are seeing today. It may sound idealistic, but historically very few great things in this world were achieved without an idealistic view and the problemsolution approach. MM: Yurizk released the Global Islamic Finance Education 2013 at the end of 2013. Could you tell us briefly what its findings were? Sadia: The Global Islamic Finance Education 2013 report released last year is the first in the series of Islamic Finance education-related reports from Yurizk. The objective of this report was to reveal critical insights into where the Islamic Finance education sector stands today in terms of numerical measure and in the global context. Critical findings of the research report are as follows (all data is based on research conducted between 2012-2013): • There are 742 institutions globally that are involved in the dissemination of education and knowledge in Islamic Finance. • Pakistan, Malaysia, United Kingdom, United States, and United Arab Emirates are among the top countries in terms of the number of Islamic Finance education

and knowledge services providers. • 85% of the initiatives within Islamic Finance education and knowledge services are potential contributors towards skill building or professional development in the industry and 15% of educational and knowledge dissemination initiatives are potential contributors towards research and innovation. April 2014 Islamic Banker Asia 45


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• United Kingdom leads as a provider of Islamic Finance education in Europe, with 53% of the total Islamic Finance education and knowledge services providers in the region. • United Arab Emirates leads as a provider of Islamic Finance education in the MENA region with 30% of the IFEKSP (Islamic Finance Education and Knowledge Services Providers) in the region.

MM: In your view, what are the challenges facing the Islamic finance industry today? Sadia: There are many challenges facing Islamic Finance today. We presented four key challenge areas in our GIFE 2013 report as those were relevant to human capital development. Our research found that 85% per cent of the education and awareness efforts in Islamic Finance industry are geared towards professional development. However, this is not enough and there are several gaps that need to be addressed by policy makers because these initiatives are not contributing towards a harmonious development of the industry across borders. That’s why we keep hearing that there are shortages of human resources. Unless and until attention has been put into those gaps and necessary regulations and policy decisions are implemented with regard to Islamic Finance education and human resource development, it will be very difficult to achieve tangible solutions to the problem at hand. The lack of qualified human resources is hindering the progress of research and innovation needed for the sustainability of the Islamic Finance industry in the long run. When it comes to innovation, we need a high degree of creativity to solve the economic and financial needs of the next generation in a tangible way that does not violate the principles of Islamic Law, the very source of the concept of Islamic Finance. To achieve this outcome, we require highly qualified individuals who are experts in Islamic Legal rulings, the Shari’ah based on its primary sources, and the economic and financial systems. They must also have an in-depth understanding of how the modern world works. This is not possible without a comprehensive and strategic educational framework to produce the next generation of scholars, researchers, and practitioners. It is my humble view that the more time is spent neglecting this area, the more time it will require to move towards long term, strategic and sustainable solutions for the challenges at hand. MM: In your view, what are the big opportunities you see in the near future?

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Sadia: From the educational perspective, I am highly optimistic about the future. It is my personal view that the generation that will inherit the Islamic Finance industry and its services will be more aware and more educated about the concepts of Islamic Finance, unlike the previous generation. They will not be fooled by any products and services that may be wrapped with just the title without the substance. This increased awareness and education will be the biggest opportunity to face the challenges in a more strategic way by organising resources with collaborative efforts towards bringing out creative and tangible solutions. However, we all have a role to play to bring that change by contributing with all our resources to educate and raise awareness at every possible level, starting from within our own families, friends and communities. MM: What would you like to say to Muslims? Sadia: I would say this to not just Muslims but to everyone. Each one of us is created with a definite purpose and our Creator has given each one of us a particular interest, passion, and skills to fulfil that purpose. It is imperative for us to figure out the interest, passion, and skill sets and combine them together to fulfil that purpose. We were created to benefit the planet by way of our contributions. Never belittle your ideas and always strive to make the world around you a better place within your own capacity. We are living in a time of tremendous opportunities; make the best use of the resources you are blessed with and express gratitude towards those blessings. Opportunities will then come to you. MM: How do you see yourself and your contribution to the industry in the next 5-10 years?

Sadia: If we compare our time with the time we lived 10 years back, we may understand that the next 10 years may bring realities that are unthinkable at this time. The next ten years may bring unthinkable opportunities for Islamic Finance. They may also bring unthinkable challenges. Having said that, I see myself and Yurizk focusing on at least one challenge and gap within Islamic Economics and Finance each year in the area of human capital development and bringing out creative and innovative catalysts in bridging those gaps. In 2012 we launched the largest online database of Islamic Finance education providers and facilitated knowledge dissemination and the promotion of Islamic Finance education. Nothing like that had existed before. In 2013 we released the ground breaking GIFE2013 special report to reveal the current state of global Islamic Finance education sector. No other report as comprehensive as GIFE2013 had been released prior to that. In May 2014 we are launching the first of its kind Entrepreneurship Development initiative for the Islamic Finance and Halal industries with the objective of building future leaders for the Islamic Finance and Halal sectors to bridge demand and supply gaps in services for Shari’ah- compliant consumers. This will be the first and at this time the only comprehensive business leadership coaching for new start-ups and businesses in the Halal economy. It is a sixweek online coaching programme. More information can be found here: http://coaching.yurizk.com/ yblc2014/. We plan to progress with the mission of Yurizk in a consistent, strategic, innovative and methodological manner, taking one step at a time.

SADIA KARIM SUMMARY PROFILE

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adia Karim is the Founder & CEO of Yurizk. Her passion for Islamic Finance and her research and entrepreneurial skills inspired her to launch Yurizk with a vision to turn it into a one-stop platform for Islamic Finance education, career, and business resources. Sadia worked at J P Morgan Chase as a Business and Management Analyst across several lines of businesses including Treasury and Securities, Investment Banking, and Corporate Technology. In addition to her experiences in the conventional Finance industry, Sadia spent over five years conducting independent market research in Islamic Finance specialising in the education and career sector. Sadia holds a BSc. in Business Administration from Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics, University of Delaware.

YURIZK’S BUSINESS LEADERSHIP COACHING 2014 April 2014 Islamic Banker Asia 47


Chat with Sadia Karim, Founder & CEO, Yurizk