Who are Halal entrepreneurs and What do they do differently?
Most textbooks would agree that Entrepreneurs are crazy people who identify unmet needs in the market and build firms to meet those needs, they take a calculated risk and provide an impetus for social change, innovation, and progress in economic life. Entrepreneurs, more than anybody else, have the ability to see opportunities where there is chaos, crises, and economic depression. This concept is not new to the Islamic tradition, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his companions found an ethical entrepreneurship ecosystem soon after they arrived in Madina. Most of them were already business people in Mecca, including the Prophet ﷺ himself who use to trade for Khadija, a noble Business woman from the Quraish tribe who later became the wife of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
Moha Asri Abdullah and Md. Siddique E Azam, in their article “Halal Entrepreneurship: Concept and Business Opportunities”, published in July 2020, says: “Entrepreneurship is an important aspect of life which is also inseparable from Islam where it is perceived as Halal entrepreneurship.
Therefore, Halal Startups walk within the Shari’ah (“Aqidah, Fiqh, Akhlaq”) which ensures that their activities do not deviate from the guidelines of Islam by guiding them to the mission of worshiping Allah (SWT) and to develop and prosper on the earth are called Halal Entrepreneurs (Halalpreneurs) and their role is to do business that contributes to the good and prosperity of society, the world, and humanity”.
Today, the term entrepreneur is no longer exclusive to those who have founded their own startups or businesses, it is also broadened to all those who think entrepreneurially including people from non-profit organizations, owner-managers, franchisees, second-generation firm owners, and even government officials. Therefore, “a Halalpreneur is he who is relentlessly pursuing an opportunity in either a new or existing firm to create value while assuming both the risk and the reward for his or her effort in this world and in the hereafter.
Contribution of Muslims to Innovation Ecosystems
Muslim have always regarded Entrepreneurship as an exit strategy from the social ills of unemployment, poverty, and inequality. Through Halal Entrepreneurship, Muslim entrepreneurs can change the destiny of nations by turning their economies into innovative, competitive, and ethical job creation economies like Khadija, the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ used to do. For entrepreneurship to do all this, it needs to be underscored by an entrepreneurial spirit and Evidence-Based Approaches like the ones used by Abdurahman Ibn Aw’f when he arrived in Madina. These examples can be found not only in the times of the prophet but also during the Islamic Golden Age when the Islamic Civilization prevailed all over Europe and parts of the West.
Muslims already have closed knowledge about entrepreneurship and they understand its importance, what they now need is open knowledge and its real application, and for that, we need a new approach to the way we teach Halal entrepreneurship to budding startups to unlock the device secrets of Halal sustenance. We need to talk about Halal Business as Evidence-Based Entrepreneurship (EBE). We need to talk more about this to create scalable businesses that can contribute to the local innovation ecosystems and put young people into the real experience of being entrepreneurial Muslims like Abdurahman Ibn Awf.
Besides the challenges of starting a real business, co-founders dynamics, bootstrapping hustle, and marketing, a combination of the social, economic, and spiritual bottom lines is needed to unlock Halalpreneurship ecosystems.
[Are] men whom neither commerce nor sale distracts from the remembrance of Allah and performance of prayer and giving of zakah. They fear a Day in which the hearts and eyes will [fearfully] turn about – Qur’an Chapter (24) sūrat l-nūr (The Light)
There is no doubt about the relevance of Entrepreneurship in the context of socio-economic development of any society, be it Islamic or of any other Religion. Therefore, the main difference between traditional entrepreneurship and Halal Businesses, is, in fact, in the intentions and the etiquette that governs it for example:
1. Import & Export – Dealing with customs in terms of ‘Law Of Land’. If a person does not understand this concept either he will stop doing business or he will end up doing the business by committing haram.
2. Currency, stocks, options, speculation, banking, etc. – One should know in & out about interest, the Islamic way of banking, exchanges, etc.
3. Shop-keeping – One should know the Islamic rules of Purchase /sale ..marketing, displaying, goods return, etc.
For us to do this we need Islamic Innovation Ecosystems like Creative Spaces, Open Collaboration Platforms, Inclusive Business Incubators, and massive Coworking Spaces. These are places where slow hunches of ideas can collide and turn into disruptive ideas for both the Muslim Community and the world in general. Probably we do not need a Silicon Valley, but ecosystem developers who dedicate their time and money to studying and developing the local Halal Startup Ecosystems and connect the dots between the players.
In my humble opinion, the concept of Evidence-Based-Entrepreneurship (EBE) an Islamic perspective, is all about bridging the Islamic literature that exists on business and its application in the real context of a business. By this, I mean that entrepreneurship theories must be translated into principles of actual application in Islam. This could be done by reading the stories of the Sahabas on how they did businesses and addressing employability. For this article, we refer to Khadija and Abdurahman Ibn Aw’f as two cases of study in the realm of Halalpreneurship.
We should look at Halalpreneurship as a strategy that summarizes various business pieces of knowledge, studies, and research, methodological approaches outside individual ideas, and civilizations that conform with Islamic principles. I suggest the use of meta-analysis to create strategies, concepts, and research related to practical Halal entrepreneurship. Then we must convert everything into principles applicable in real business and these principles can be used as components of EBE. All of this should involve Muslim scholars in the field, investors, students of entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs themselves, and all the startup ecosystem players interested in the growing Halal Industry.
Applicable frameworks to Halalpreneurship
Probably you don’t need an MBA to become an entrepreneur in Africa or anywhere in the world and transform your community, what you need is a strong startup ecosystem in your surroundings and Evidence-Based tools for Halal Entrepreneurship. Despite the lack of media exposure, Muslim entrepreneurs are solving real problems and changing the world with evidence-based frameworks like PINT/SIRP
Problems/Solutions; Issues/ Insights; Needs/ Resources and Trends/ Positioning ideas
A basic yet relevant concept is being developed by seasoned entrepreneurs and researchers, the PINT/SIRP model for innovation. The model is simple and pragmatic, it can be used by startup founders, government, and support organizations. Imagine how many problems we have in Africa, from social, economic, governmental, pop culture, environmental, and many more.
Now Imagine the Issues we have, the needs and trends we need to adapt to. For a person with an entrepreneurial mindset, all this can be converted into sound business. Imagine if a company or an organization has problems with their management, marketing, communication, delivery, or any other type of problems, they can be communicated to ecosystem developers and tons of solutions will be created by Halalpreneurs, the same can be done with insights when these organizations have issues, with resources when they have needs and positioning ideas for the latest trends (mainly in technology).
This framework is not only easy to use, but it is also straightforward and helps you rely less on the theoretical side of the business and focus more on solving real problems. Most interestingly is the fact that this framework can be used for job-hunting if one embraces it entrepreneurially because when you scout problems in companies you can then propose solutions and ask for a job, no company will reject you if you have the solution, and the insights, the resources they need and the positioning ideas to help that firm grow.
The concept of Halalpreneurship, according to Mohan Asri Abdullah and Md. Siddique E Aza “is based on Maqasid-al-Shari’ah (objectives of Islamic law). Maqasid means objective and Shari’ah implies Islamic law. The five objectives of Shari’ah are derived from the necessities (dharuriyat) of humankind are at the base of the pyramid: protection of faith and religion, protection of life, protection of lineage or offspring, protection of intellect and protection of wealth or property, the latter is where most halalpreneurs find their inspiration. The management of Halalpreneurship adopts the human need model by Hamid-Al-Ghazali which implies the fundamental factors of motivation for Halalpreneurs”.
The global Halal industry as a whole is estimated at about USD. 3 trillion (excluding Islamic banks) per year, it is now one of the fastest growing markets. At the same time, the growth of the global market is estimated to reach an annual rate of 20% per year. This data is in itself a big incentive for the development of Halalpreneurship.
About the Author
“In times of chaos, crises, and economic depression, entrepreneurs can play an Ethical and Halal Business Game”
~Ibn Bacar, CEO startupafrica.news
I am UX Designer and Startup Developer who loves exploring Halal startups and innovation ecosystems. I am a Halal Industry keynote speaker and a business writer who is highly passionate about the African Halal startup ecosystem. I spend most of my time learning about other civilizations and traditions to find the most exciting Halal startup and investment opportunities.