Interview with Ali Tabbalat, CVO of Solfeh

As part of the interview series, Akram Turak interviewed Ali Tabbalat, CVO of Solfeh

strong>1. Give a brief background about yourself and your business?

I am an ambitious financier, with a strong, belief in innovative financial solutions. I am the key decision-maker who performs executive duties, but with added responsibilities of creating a forward vision for Solfeh.

In my dynamic role as CVO, I provide visionary ideas to move Solfeh forward by defining Fintech strategies and formalizing the company’s strategic planning processes by forging new working relationships and synergies across the organization, and establishing greater transparency and accountability for the team.



I try to provide innovative changes to the Fintech landscape by defining complex organizational structures, rapid globalization, new regulations, and the ability to visualize a successful future for Solfeh. As a Chief Visionary Officer, I am in charge of developing Solfeh’s change management strategy and try to consistently achieve success.

As Solfeh’s Vision Maker, I try to raise the economic intelligence for the MENA region by providing financial wellness to people by letting them have autonomy over their money and build financial inclusion in the Fintech ecosystem. My innovative financial solutions are supplemented by 10 years of experience and education MBA – Finance from the University of South Wales.

  1. What was the objective and vision to start Solfeh? Can you brief us about your business?

The mission of the organization is to digitize and facilitate a smooth pathway for private and public sector employees to access micro/nano loans. Solfeh allows everyone to have access to critical financial services. At Solfeh we strive for sustainability and providing innovative technology which we have seen has become key to finding solutions to the most pressing and persistent social, economic, and environmental needs and challenges Jordan faces today.

Emergency cash is easy, quick, and painless to access through Solfeh’s streamlined online system. Solfeh embarked on a plan to allow everyone to have access to critical financial services. Solfeh’s vision is “to make obtaining loans easy, simple, and painless.”

The targeted clients and markets have a problem with their personal cash flow; whereby their average incomes are relatively equal. This creates barriers to accessing income from other parties. Therefore, in the case of an emergency (Childcare, Healthcare, Education, Debt Consolidation …etc), they are not well prepared, which creates a burden.

At Solfeh we design systematic approaches that respond to our clients, lending methodologies, operating environments, and financial and social performance objectives.

  1. What were the challenges faced by you as a Jordanian entrepreneur and how
did you overcome them?

As a Jordanian entrepreneur, I faced a lack of a robust ecosystem in the region. As a startup professional, I faced many unpredictable obstacles that you cannot plan for. This uncertainty can be demotivating at times, although it gave me the push I needed to navigate through the messy ecosystem and somehow still come upstanding.
Another challenge I feel we face as entrepreneurs in Jordan is raising funds. We tend to raise funds for what we need today when we really should be raising funds for a forecast of a minimum of two years.

I feel as a Jordanian entrepreneur that governing roadblocks need to be addressed in collaboration with startup ecosystem champions and develop a clear strategy that can be used to analyze existing laws and procedures and eliminate those that stunt the growth of a vibrant private sector.

However, it is important to state the Jordanian government has addressed the concerns of increasing access to capital and information for entrepreneurs, as well as simplifying the startup registration and lowering registration costs. Furthermore, the entrepreneurship eco-system is evolving, with more innovative startups appearing in Jordan.

I believe that a more engaged relationship with universities and the educational system plays an important role in refining an entrepreneurial spirit and culture in Jordan’s youth, not to mention in building their entrepreneurial skills and competencies through designated entrepreneurship education and training. This, in turn, will supply the Jordanian entrepreneurial ecosystem with trained and prepared talent.

4. What is your roadmap for your business? Any funding requirements? Roadmap:

Solfeh has been growing ever since its establishment, below are the key achievements for Solfeh.

Q3 2017: Solfeh was licensed by the Central Bank of Jordan. It also partnered with CRIF Jordan; a global company specializing in credit bureau and business information, outsourcing and processing services, and credit solutions. At the end of 2017 Q3, Solfeh had secured its pre-seed round.

Q4 2018: in 2018, Solfeh had surpassed 1000 clients and became part of Beyond Capital’s network; a proactive player in the entrepreneurial and investment ecosystem with a wide network leveraged to support a portfolio of 42 companies.

Q2 2019: in the second quarter of 2019, Solfeh was ranked as one of the top 100 start-ups in the World Economic Forum as it surpassed 3000 clients and partnered with 60+ employers.

Q4 2019: in the fourth quarter of 2019, Solfeh was accepted by the Central Bank of Bahrain’s FinTech Regulatory Sandbox; that allows financial institutions such as Solfeh to test their products, services, or solutions in the market under a more relaxed regulatory environment but within a well-defined space and duration agreed with the regulators. By then, Solfeh also had secured its Seed Round and was ranked 1st place winner at Finance Forward Program by Village Capital; a venture capital firm that finds, trains, and invests in early-stage ventures solving major global problems.

Q2& Q4 2020: In 2020, Solfeh had surpassed 4000 clients, and accepted a letter to form a Joint venture in Bangladesh.

Q1&Q2 2021: At this point, a new “Nano Loans” product is created to be launched alongside its expansion to the Jordanian private sector as it is in the process of selecting and finalizing the list of companies to expand in while advocating a new business model (Refinancing Model) to be implemented in Jordan or other potential markets.

In Bahrain, Solfeh has finalized the certificate of incorporation for Solfeh Bahrain and plans to start a pilot in the Bahraini Market.

In Bangladesh, Solfeh is in current discussions with the Bangladeshi government and is evaluating average loan amounts. A launch post-government approval is expected for Q2 of this year as a long-term project that will operate ideally with forming a Joint Venture.


Funding requirements
We are currently at a bridge round size of 600K- 1 Million USD that is comfortable for almost a year for both funding and Operational Costs. The Runway for this round is 12 months

We are currently at a bridge round size of 600K- 1 Million USD that is comfortable for almost a year for both funding and Operational Costs. The Runway for this round is 12 months

  1. How do you see the Jordanian startup scene and the role & contribution of woman entrepreneurs in the next 5 years?

Significant challenges stand in the way of increasing women’s participation in the business sector in Jordan. There needs to be an increase in women’s representation in decision-making circles and boards of directors. This collaboration of female entrepreneurs will provide the social capital and current knowledge around the barriers women face in the startup ecosystem.

Significant challenges stand in the way of increasing women’s participation in the business sector in Jordan. There needs to be an increase in women’s representation in decision-making circles and boards of directors. This collaboration of female entrepreneurs will provide the social capital and current knowledge around the barriers women face in the startup ecosystem.

I feel it is imperative to discuss women’s position in society and how this benefits the economic development. There is a direct relationship between women’s empowerment and the countries’ economic development. We need to challenge the traditional social perceptions regarding the roles of women in the entrepreneurial structure.
A regulatory framework needs to be designed and implemented with women entrepreneurs representing an equal representation on these committees by recognizing their impact on the Jordanian economy.
I see a more collaborative relationship and stronger support for women in Jordan. Also, startups are employing more women in Executive roles and relying on their strategic know-how. We need to reshape of the entrepreneurial journey of women in Jordan by changing the perceptions of investor reluctance, entrepreneurial self-efficacy, access to finance, the conflict between social values, and career choice.

6. What is advice would you like to give to an aspiring Jordanian entrepreneur?


I think as a Jordanian entrepreneur you need to understand the reality that there is a lack of cooperation between different people, organizations and institutions within the entrepreneurial landscape in Jordan. This presents a key obstacle that dramatically slows down any progress in elevating the profile of entrepreneurial activity in Jordan. There is also a lack of proper legal advisory in Jordan so be better prepared to source the right fit for your startup.

It is not enough to have an innovative idea to start your business, you need to set up proper follow-up mechanisms with vendors and investors, secure effective mentorship and guidance not only for the inception of your startup but also to sustain it throughout its lifecycle.

It is also imperative to partner/collaborate with innovative organizations that support startups in your region/sector. Halal Angels Network is a great fit for Solfeh as we are shariah-compliant and follow under the fintech scheme that they support. Halal Angels is the first of its kind, this global investor group was established with the vision to promote innovation and entrepreneurship and startups in the Halal market.

Akram Turak is a contributor based out of Nagpur, India. He is also the creative director of TMA Worldwide, the parent company of GCCStartup.News, Startup Berita & Halal Biz News

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