IsDB Institute Announces Winners of Smart Economy Grants Program

31 May, 2021

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The Islamic Development Bank Institute (IsDBI) has announced the seven winners of its Smart Economy Grants Program, which was launched to stimulate technology-enabled innovation in the economy through sustainable and inclusive interventions. The first-place award went to Pandai, an education app that helps school students learn, developed by a Malaysia-based company.

The winners were announced during a special webinar organized by the IsDB Institute on 30 May 2021.

Launched in 2020, the Smart Economy Grants Program called for projects involving the application of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain for business and economy with Islamic finance component.

In his speech during the webinar, the President of IsDB Group, H.E. Dr. Bandar M.H. Hajjar, congratulated the winners, describing them as “the embodiment of innovation and success”.

Dr. Hajjar said, “We are committed to supporting the development of Islamic finance in the age of fintech to successfully transform the enormous untapped potential into tangible benefits in Islamic finance through the empowerment of young innovators and entrepreneurs.”

A total of 47 grant applications were received from 23 countries around the world, covering an array of sectors of the economy, including education, agriculture, tourism, supply-chain management, and waste management.

The seven winners were selected through a rigorous process that involved internal and external experts. Each winner will receive up to USD 10,000 to implement their projects under the IsDBI Smart Economy Lab, anchored to the Regional Hub of the IsDB in Indonesia.

In his remarks, Dr. Sami Al-Suwailem, the Acting Director General of the IsDB Institute and Chief Economist, thanked H.E. Dr. Bandar Hajjar for his invaluable support to the IsDB Institute towards the success of the Smart Economy Lab and the Smart Economy Grants Program.

Dr. Al-Suwailem explained further: “The Smart Economy Lab was established with the objective to stimulate innovation and generate creative ideas involving advanced technologies to seek solutions to various economic problems guided by the principles of Islamic economics and finance. The Grants Program is designed to support patentable ideas with significant entrepreneurial potential.”

Dr. Hilal Hussein, IsDBI Knowledge Solutions Team Leader, stated, “Our objective of instituting the Smart Economy Grants Program is to empower potential entrepreneurs engaged in technology-based solutions for the smart economy challenges, developed with emerging financial technologies, to realize their dreams and contribute to the digital transformation of our societies with high-quality projects leading to patentable and copyrighted products.”

The cash award to be given to each of the seven winners is an initial grant that is expected to serve as a catalyst for the winning projects and open new funding opportunities.


Meet the Seven Winners

1st Place

Project: PANDAI (Minimum Viable Product)

Project Description: An education app that helps school students learn.

Country: Malaysia


2nd Place

Project: LIBER HEALTH (Minimum Viable Product)

Project Description: Digital solution that provides safe and contactless iris identification and Covid pre-screening for underserved communities.

Country: Pakistan


3rd Place

Project: HEAR ME (Minimum Viable Product)

Project Description: The first Indonesian sign language 3D animation translator application for bridging the communication between the deaf and the hearing.

Country: Indonesia


4th Place

Project: Smart Irrigation (Prototype)

Project Description: A system for collecting, storing, and processing data in order to automate irrigation and optimize water usage.

Country: Niger


5th Place

Project: IROSCA (Proof of Concept)

Project Description: The purpose of the project is to provide necessary information and evaluations needed to present the iRosca to the investors as well as to conduct a feasibility study with financial projection.

Country: Turkey


6th Place

Project: SOSPESO (Proof of Concept)

Project Description: A digital platform that brings together 3 parties:

  • The donors (who will buy forward meals from an online menu);
  • (currently) the restaurants (and other e-commerce vendors); and
  • The low-income families.

Country: Bahrain


7th Place

Project: Alumnia ID (Minimum Viable Product)

Project Description: A fintech equity crowdfunding and security crowdfunding for small and medium enterprises.

Country: Indonesia

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