WHO WE ARE
While we’ve been busy building our system and getting going in the midst of a war zone, many have been asking who we are and what we’re doing. Connecting with members of our core team in London who directly support customers from the UK to the Middle East will give you the best insights into the hearts and horsepower driving our operation.
Because COVID-19 prevents us from meeting face-to-face, here are responses to common questions coming from those curious in the US, Australia, Europe - largely working in charities. We will soon release FAQs for individual account holders, so watch this space!
Are you a charity or for-profit?
Something somewhere in between.
Amanacard and SecureAid are trademarks of Huozhi Ltd, set up as a self-sustaining social impact enterprise, to serve as many people as possible in or from unbanked crisis zones. Registered in the UK “for the public benefit, the relief and assistance of people in any part of the world who are the victims of war or natural disaster, trouble, or catastrophe in particular but not exclusively by the provision of grants, goods or services”, donors and recipients are now sending and spending as valued customers across the world.
Are you a bank or hawala?
Neither. But we know how to work with both the formal and informal financial systems always involved in the flow of money to unbanked areas. In these areas, the system provides an alternative payment gateway that monitors every human transaction in real-time, to mirror the actual exchange of cash or equivalent value. In sending countries, we integrate with formal financial services and increase the confidence of banks to facilitate payments to people excluded due to sanctions or other risk-based decisions.
*Hawala is a system of exchange, pre-dated by the money men (or 'huo-zhi') in ancient China.
Where do you work?
We are a UK-registered company trading in Europe, the US, Middle East and Africa.
The solution is designed specifically for people excluded from traditional banking due to de-risking or lack of trust in a community. We began in war-torn Syria, at the time of the world’s most complex prevailing geopolitical and humanitarian crisis, to validate the concept could work even in the toughest of places. Since 2018, we opened the platform to support charities in other countries listed by the Dutch Good Growth Fund, and individuals in the West looking for sharia-compliant bank options.
How much does it cost?
For charities, it depends on scale. Our vision is to provide the Gold* service free of charge where, individually or in a consortium, charities commit to achieving a mutually agreed level of scale. Merchants cover the cost through gains made across their networks. The Blue service is currently fixed at a nominal percentage of completed payments.
*Gold is for families in need, Sky Blue for workers and Royal Blue for supplier payments.
Individuals sending e-gifts will see a full breakdown of the costs when they make a transfer.
What is the main risk?
Account holders may be concerned about their personal data. Our platform treats data with the highest level of privacy and protection.
Our paramount concern is the physical protection of all people directly contributing to or benefiting from Amanacard. We recognise the inherent threats of our operating environments for end recipients from across the Middle East, North Africa and South-Asia, and apply a detailed risk-based approach to ensuring their safety.
How long to open accounts?
We can sign and start the same day. Our record is on-boarding 1,500 people daily, including the highest level of enhanced KYC/due diligence to satisfy global banks - and this was in war-torn Syria!
For charities, together with Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, we have invested considerably in developing robust standard contracts that can be rapidly executed, in view of the pressure to deliver in crisis zones. The on-boarding process for aid recipients is automatic once the data is accurate, as is the topping up of digital accounts before pay-outs and purchases can begin using our apps.
FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE OF DAILY LIVING IN FRAGILE STATES
Edwina is recognised as a world expert on Islamic finance, following frontline work across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. Amanacard embodies the essence of her book published by Oxford University Press, Trust is the Coin of the Realm.
Since 2016, along with her co-founder and father John, she has channelled her expertise and passion into creating a bespoke financial technology and service that is trusted by governments, international charities and diaspora communities. Edwina leads a diverse team driven by the same goal – to serve people with dignity, especially with they’re in need of outside help, and steward money in a way that restores trust in places where it has been broken.
Kholoud has provided a leading role in launching our Amanacard GOLD programme, and has put her second-to-none linguistic skills to the test by ensuring everything we do is communicated in the right way between very different worlds.
Kholoud has passionately highlighted the importance of gender programming and independent journalism in conflict situations such as the Syria crisis. She co-founded the independent newspaper Enab Baladi, and won the 2015 Anna Politkovskaya Award for female human rights defenders in recognition of her efforts to raise awareness of atrocities.
Dr Hamza manages our day-to-day operations, spanning the UK, Europe, US and Middle East. He is a Syrian doctor, human rights activist and public health advocate, featured in the BAFTA-winning film For Sama.
From 2012 to December 2016, he delivered frontline medical care to thousands of people shortly after graduating as a doctor. He was one of the last remaining doctors in Eastern Aleppo as manager of Al-Quds Hospital, which he set up for the treatment of non-trauma cases. Hamza displaced to the UK with his family in 2018, and is now the friendly face for many of our trusted aid and diaspora customers.
Fede manages our Special Projects. He has extensive experience designing and managing aid programmes in conflict zones, and performed a critical role in helping to refine the Amanacard system and service.
He has extraordinary resilience, tenacity and sense of what's right when it comes to supporting people at the local level. In 2016 he co-created FieldWorks, a unique NGO aggregator platform making it easier for the public directly and easily to find, trust and invest in locally-led social change initiatives.
This followed his survival of over 1 year in ISIS captivity in Syria.
Our service is only as good as where the rubber hits the road. The Amana field teams are hugely talented, hard-working individuals who have their own families to support as they take serious risks in doing the job. They bridge the gap between the latest technologies and the practical realities of operating in a war zone, and share our desire to prove that every dollar of support can reach the intended end recipients. They are our unsung heroes. We look forward to the day that their efforts can be publicly and safely acknowledged.
OUR TECH TEAMS ARE ON THE PHONE TO THE FRONTLINE EVERY DAY
Clive is responsible for three tech teams - our core developers, and those leading on the ledger and analytics. They also benefit from the advice of cutting edge experts and external testers in diverse parts of the tech community.
Clive has over 20 years' designing and developing software solutions for web, desktop, mobile and cloud. He's been a strong proponent of the value of software usability and co-wrote "UX Lifecycle", one of the best-selling books on User Experience.
Clive has led development teams for elite creative agencies and for 10 years ran his own software business that delivered innovative projects for start-ups and global brands. The business was recognised within the industry for its work with emerging technologies.
CAN - APPS
React Native developer who at 16 created an online TV app that won over 0.5 million active users in 8 weeks of going live, causing significant disruption. Multilingual, loyal, passionate to help amanacard users. Google Developer Group organiser.
OZ - PLATFORM
Senior developer with 15 years of experience in the aid sector, including chief architect for web app Decision-Navigator (D-NAV). Specialises in: C#, SQL Server, .NET, ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC. BSc in Electronic Engineering & Computer Science.