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How Egypt’s Thndr is Making Investing Accessible

Inc. Arabia speaks to Ahmad Hammouda, CEO and co-founder of Thndr, an investment platform that wants to democratize access to investing.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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“Investing is like working out,” Thndr CEO and co-founder Ahmad Hammouda tells us straight off the bat. The key, he tells us, is consistency and diversification. “You work out three days a week to improve your physical well-being, and you invest once a month across different investment products to take control of your financial well-being,” he says.   

Former investment banker and GM at Uber Egypt, Hammouda co-founded the Egypt-based wealthtech platform Thndr with Seif Amr in 2019. The trading platform, which enables investors to buy and sell equities, bonds, and mutual funds, received the first brokerage license from the EGX in more than 10 years upon launching.  

Thndr secured a research license in January of this year to provide expert investment recommendations through a sister brand, Rumble. By pairing access to trading with insights, the team aims to give average investors what high-net-worth investors take for granted: Recommendations on how and where to invest their money.  

In its first three years of operating, Thndr was downloaded more than 2 million times. Last year, it ranked first among brokerage firms in Egypt based on trading value and volume.  

Thndr has been quick to gain the support of investors as well. In 2019, it raised an undisclosed pre-seed investment from Y-Combinator, 4DX Ventures, Endure Capital, the Raba Partnership, and MSA Capital. In 2022, it closed a $20 million Series A round, which was co-led by Tiger Global, BECO Capital, and Prosus Ventures to expand into other MENA markets. Thndr recently received a license to trade on the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and is currently working to secure a license for Saudi Tadawul, Hammouda tells us.  

“Our dream is to become the investment platform of choice for the Arabic-speaking population,” he says.  

Democratizing Access to Investing 

For Hammouda, improving access to investing is about leveling the playing field. “This idea of everyone being able to save, grow their wealth, and protect their money from inflation, should not be exclusive to a specific social class. It should be available to everyone, regardless of their knowledge or wallet size,” he says.  

Hammouda explains that only 2% of Egyptian households invest compared to 50% in the US, creating a huge opportunity for investment platforms. Through Thndr, he aims to have 10 million households in Egypt invest in companies.

And by building a team that is young, tech-savvy, and diverse, Thndr has managed to onboard first-time investors around the country. “What excites us is that the majority of our users are first-time investors. More than 50% of our users come from cities outside of Cairo and the average age is 30,” says Hammouda.  

“We understand that for us to truly democratize investing, it has to be digital,” he adds.

In launching Thndr, the team is building an “investment supermarket” that allows people to trade in money market funds, invest in stocks directly through an asset manager, as well as to invest in gold.

But first, the team had to navigate the multitude of challenges that come with launching a wealth management platform in a country where investment isn’t mainstreamed. As a result, one of Thndr’s missions is to improve financial literacy by creating a stream of content in the form of newsletters, podcasts, videos, and webinars to inform and educate investors and potential investors.

“We built a content machine that combines all this complex, scary financial jargon into a blender and produces a message that is very easy to understand,” says Hammouda.  

Navigating an Economic Crisis  

Over the past two years, Egypt has faced soaring inflation, economic uncertainty, and a severe shortage of foreign currency. The Central Bank of Egypt has devalued the EGP 3 times before finally floating it in early March. This came just days after announcing the injection of $35 billion from Abu Dhabi-based ADQ for the development of the coastal region of Ras El-Hekma. Shortly after, the IMF approved an $8 billion loan package.  

According to Hammouda, one of the few benefits of the current economic situation in Egypt is increased financial awareness and literacy. “In economies where inflation is high and the currency is losing its value, people can build wealth and preserve their savings by investing in assets.”

In fact, the EGX has been one of the few beneficiaries of the crisis, with Egypt’s benchmark index more than doubling last year, coming second only to Argentina in terms of performance compared to all stock benchmarks globally.  

“We would love to be part of the ecosystem that channels savings to fund the region’s most exciting investment opportunities, whether that be in entrepreneurs or companies,” he says.  

He tells us that people are increasingly recognizing that investing can be an avenue to generate passive income. “When you compare the different asset classes that you could invest your money in, investing in companies is the only one that will give our economy a chance to recover,” he says.  

I genuinely believe that Egypt is very exciting and the potential here is massive. We’re just scratching the surface,” he adds.  

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