Ex-NFL star to launch Islamic SME fund in Dubai

Former New York Giants star Brandon Short to lead World Business Partners

Former NFL linebacker Brandon Short. (Getty Images)

Former NFL linebacker Brandon Short. (Getty Images)

A former NFL linebacker who starred in the 2001 Superbowl is to setup a Dubai-based Islamic fund targeting small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Brandon Short, who played for the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers, retired from the sport in 2006 before joining Goldman Sachs an investment banker. In 2010 he moved to the UAE, before taking up the role of President at World Business Partners.

The fund, which is due to launch in September, will provide Shariah compliant financing to SMEs on a sale-and-leaseback basis. World Business Partners will offer financing packages between AED35,000 and AED1.5m.

“I didn’t want the best years of my life to be behind me when I was 30,” Short, who is now 35 years old, told Arabian Business of his decision to setup the fund. “I’ve lived the dream playing American professional football, and I knew I had the business acumen... and numerous mentors have guided me towards finance.”

Short said that the SME lending market in the region was currently underserved by mainstream lenders, claiming that these businesses control 99 percent of the business sector worldwide.

His partners in the venture include Doug Naidus, former global head of Deutsche Bank’s residential lending division and Alex Gemici, who formerly headed up Deutsche Bank’s MENA residential finance division. The platform’s funding will be provided by the three partners, as well as an unnamed Emirati backer.

Short added that the fund would initially focus on the UAE, but planned to move into other GCC territories in the future. It will target small businesses in the manufacturing and retail sectors, he said.

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