Al Baraka Bank Lebanon will be implementing an expansion plan by 2015.
“We will be launching new services for the first time available in the country,” said Mutassim Mahmassani, General Manager of the bank.
“We will be opening three new branches, and will focus on enhancing our presence in remote areas, mainly in the North and South,” he said. The bank already operates branches in Beirut, Chtaura, Saida, and Tripoli.
Services will include, ‘Musharaka’, equity funding that stipulates sharing of profits and losses. “The agreement can be continuous between the bank and the client or the bank may exit the project within a period of time,” said Mahmassani. “We will be targeting all projects, including projects in the industry, agriculture, or real estate sectors,” he said.
Under the ‘Al Salam’ program, the bank prepays the supplier, for later delivery to the customer. “We will be targeting the agriculture sector. Farmers need financing for feed, seeds, and fertilizers. The bank will receive in return the final product and pass it along to the end user,” said Mahmassani. “
The Islamic banking industry has been growing locally by ten percent, annually. Its market share is less than one percent.
“The growth rate of Islamic finance is satisfactory, if we take into consideration the small size of its market here. The future of this industry is promising and new Islamic banks may be interested to expand here, but more laws and regulations should be developed or amended,” Mahmassani said. “The Central Bank is supporting Islamic banks through existing legislations and we are working together on pushing further towards approval of others,” he said.