Revolutionary Dubai microfinancing platform

Pi Slice is the first online Micro Finance platform in the MENA region, enabling motivated individuals and companies to build a sustainable future for micro-entrepreneurs, as well as a favourable ecosystem for development at the macro level.

EMG spoke with Genny Ghanimeh, Founder and CEO.

What inspired you to start a micro lending platform?

It was early 2010, when I was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with a group of friends. It did not take longer than 2 days for me to get into a raw state of being – a state when everything and anything that is not essential to your being just naturally leaves you and you’re left with what’s basically raw in you. I was deeply immersed in this state until day 5, one day before reaching the top! I suffered from altitude sickness, and I had to descend, accompanied by one of the guides, to recover. Of course, I was, back then, in a semi state of euphoria due to the lack of oxygen; yet despite my breathing difficulties I insisted on having a conversation with my guide, asking him all sorts of questions. At some point I asked him how many times he climbs Kili in a year. His answer was at least 6 times, because it allows him to make enough money to transfer his daughter from a public school to a private one. My natural reaction was to propose to sponsor her schooling, since the amount was about two hundred and fifty US Dollars. What followed was beyond words! My guide froze and tears rolled down his eyes, as if the universe had given the world to him! I will never forget that moment, from what I saw in front of me to how I felt, and it was then that I said to myself that if I have to live for one more day, this is what I want to be doing; this is the heart I want to be touching and be touched by.

An array of events preceded the Kili moment. I had experienced lots of losses of different kinds, many in a row or in conjunction. That led me to rethink and transform my own life with a new sense of determination and awareness. I grew very interested in supporting others, particularly through microfinance; so I started building up for a microfinance institution in my home country. This exercise exposed me, more in depth, into the industry that fascinated me – but what captivated me even more was all the people who work and dedicate themselves to this purpose.

Why do you believe Pi Slice is providing a critical element towards a better world?

We live in a society with many constraints: our politics, our social instability, our bureaucracy, our regulations, our banking funding strategies, our unemployment levels, our corporate mindset of self-interest and our own mindsets of personal limitations…

A micro-entrepreneur could try unsuccessfully to go through all these constraints and finally settle for discouragement… But, what if there were a way to bypass all our constraints, all our borders, all our limitations, and what if bypassing them all is just a click away?

So this is what Pi Slice truly achieves: a new model that makes old models obsolete and thus trigger a movement of change in people’s mindset and hopefully inspire other entrepreneurs to follow through.

Pi Slice is a web-based social platform which represents a new channel of funding for Micro Finance Institutions. Its framework is a unique connecting system that links individuals and companies – who wish to invest – with MENA based MFIs – that in turn use the funds to provide micro-credit to their customers. Through this web-based platform, motivated individuals and companies can help MFIs in the MENA region to build a sustainable future for micro-entrepreneurs, as well as a favourable ecosystem for development at the macro level.

When you think about making a difference in developing the MENA region, you might consider donating to a charity or an NGO, as most people do. What if you could instead direct a portion of your investment portfolio towards financing microfinance institutions? Not only would you get a return on your investment and diversify your portfolio, but you would as well participate responsibly in the social development from the base of the pyramid.

As a corporate partner, the commitment is made visible on a dedicated partners page. A dedicated lending page – with logo & branding – highlights their involvement in Pi Slice projects and showcases their loans and their audience’s engagement. The corporate partner will be able to mobilize their employees and clients through meaningful incentives that will highlight the company’s social actions.

Please tell us what sets Pi Slice apart from its ‘competitors’ – what makes Pi Slice so unique?

To me, connecting to the Private Sector and building a lending page for corporates where they can invite their audience and community to come and lend and create a success story – is what really makes Pi Slice unique. It demonstrates a new social responsibility model where one can capitalize on the community one reaches.

Ultimately, I hope to create a community of lenders and borrowers, where people really help each other horizontally. The old model of philanthropy and charity was top to bottom; a horizontal model will not only create more efficiency, but also more ‘solidarity’.

Pi Slice offers an ideal solution to companies that wish to engage their employees and clients by leveraging both online and offline resources to make CSR actions interactive, tangible and engaging while measuring the impact.