Ethis Crowd – Sharia Compliant Property Investment in Indonesia

In my search for Ethical Impact Investments available to Everyday investors, I was intrigued when I came across Ethis Crowd. Ethis allows you to invest in Social Housing Projects backed by the Indonesian government. Earning “healthy profits while helping the needy“.

It is Sharia compliant. I have very little understanding of Sharia Law and how it is applied to finances, other than it adds an additional layer of complexity.

Ethis Crowd

“Our community of 25,000 ethical and Islamic crowd-investors and donors from 65 countries provide funding for Social Housing development projects in Emerging Indonesia. Every home we build helps a family break out of poverty.”

The website is slick, although perhaps too many pop-ups for my personal taste. In an effort to stand out amongst so much information, it appears we have gone with shout louder, rather than quieten the noise.

I like the way Ethis allows the Crowd to invest alongside lead investors. This is a model I came across in the reinsurance market, where one underwriter takes the lead (makes decisions) and the rest come along for the ride. This diversifies the risk, while still allowing decisions to be made and broadens the opportunity.

It appears as if all of Ethis’s current focus is only on Indonesia. Of course, focusing on housing in the world’s fourth most populous country, makes a lot of sense.

Reviewing the list of projects, there were a number of ongoing and successful payouts.

Investing

There were two projects available. I chose the one below.

Project: PESONA PRIMA CIKAHURIPAN – Affordable Housing in West Java, Indonesia

  • Projected return: 11 (smaller investment) -12% (investing over SGD20k, I was not)
  • Duration: 10-11 months
  • Goal: SGD $274,923.00 (£156k)
  • Raised: SGD $104,750.00 (£60k)
  • Time remaining: 24 days to go

Scanning through the previous projects, it appears a rule of thumb is that the return is about 1% per month of the project.

There is a minimum investment of S$1000 (£570) and the option for a first-time investor to start investing with only S$500 (£280), normally this would be too high for my current considerations while I explore and build my Ethical Impact Investment portfolio, but I like the first-time investor option and given the relatively short time horizon, I decided to give it a go.

Really nicely presented Key Facts Section:

  • RESOLVE DESTITUTION AND RAISE THE STANDARD OF LIVING IN THE MOST POPULOUS MUSLIM COUNTRY – Living in a house is not an option for many low-income families in Bogor. They can only afford to rent and share small rooms.
  • HELP FAMILIES BREAK OUT OF POVERTY – Homes typically increase in value, build equity and provide a nest egg for the future.
  • BE PART OF A SUCCESSFUL GOVERNMENT PROGRAM – Our campaign is part of the One Million Homes program, aimed to address the national housing shortage.
  • EARN GREAT PROFITS WHILE DOING GOOD – This campaign gives a projected return of 11-12% in 10-11 months through the delivery of quality homes for the poor and destitute.

There is some more information about the scope of the project, the developer and so on.

The risks to this type of investment include delays in selling on to end-buyers (the developer has a good track record). Delays in construction, so a 1 month buffer has been added and of course there is currency risk, which the project developer has committed to cover depreciation of up to 5% of the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) over the duration of the project. As always, it states that I should never invest more than I can afford to lose.

I noticed that I could use a card payment facility which added a step. Fortunately there is Transferwise is an option, which had a reasonable £3 in fees.

Once the payment was complete, I got a WhatsApp from their Sales Lead explaining that he would be my point of contact with any queries I have.

Closing Thoughts

Overall Ethis have provided an interesting way to diversify risk across ethical impact investments. The shorter time frame and relatively high interest rates are attractive as part of a balanced portfolio. I plan to build my portfolio over time with Ethis and would love to see them expand to Africa.

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