In some European and Western countries, religious concerns about interest-based financing prevent Muslim populations from engaging in business activities and restrict their ability to seek formal funding for their projects. This workshop aims to explore the Shariah-compliant products available in Western countries and their regulations, with a particular focus on the Norwegian case.
Sarah Tobin and Mari Norbakk from the Chr. Michelsen Institute (Bergen, Norway) will present their research «The Invisible Ceiling: Muslim Immigrant Entrepreneurs Navigate Norway’s Financial Environment», a four-year project funded by the Norwegian Research Council.
Existing literature demonstrates that financial exclusion amongst entrepreneurs in Norway occurs because the sector fails to recognise immigrants' and religious congregants' unique needs, including gender. Most Muslim entrepreneurs in Norway now depend upon their own personal savings or interest-free loans from family and friends, and this dependency severely constrains growth potential. Importantly, the financing available for these entrepreneurs from friends or family is limited. These limitations also inhibit Muslim immigrant integration in Norway, as they lack financial opportunities to become equal stakeholders in society, contribute to the development of their communities, and create value in their new country. While the UK, for example, has demonstrated a certain level of access to Islamic financial opportunities for its Muslim communities, through necessary regulative and legal changes, Norway has not developed such structures and institutionalisation. Therefore, there have been delays in Muslim communities becoming part of economic value creation and being fully integrated into Norwegian society as community stakeholders.