The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) has granted a ‘No Objection’ to Acorn Investment Management Limited, to roll-out a retail investor aggregator platform named ‘Vuka’ to the mass market upon the successful completion of the test in the CMA Regulatory Sandbox.
Retail investors are onboarded to Vuka by registering and pay joining and annual membership fees. Once on the platform, investors contribute funds into Acorn Capital Partners LLP (ACPL) through a CMA-licensed custodial account.
ACPL purchases units in asset-backed and CMA-approved products such as the Acorn Student Accommodation Income Real Estate Investment Trust (ASA I-REIT) and allocates them to investors in Vuka, in proportion to their investments.
Investors can trade amongst themselves on the platform by placing buy and sell orders. Whenever excess buy or sell orders are recorded, the additional units are purchased from the Nairobi Securities Exchange Unquoted Securities Platform.
‘This innovation has demonstrated the ability to mobilize retail investor participation in REITs, in addition to enhancing financial literacy by providing a tangible platform through which investors can buy and sell units among themselves and learn how trading in the capital markets works’, CMA Chief Executive Officer Wyckliffe Shamiah noted.
He pointed out that retail investors in Vuka are encouraged to hold their investments for the long-term as that is the nature of real estate. The innovation also provides liquidity for retail investors, as a response to the illiquid nature of real estate investments.
The fintech was admitted to the Regulatory Sandbox live-testing environment on 20 August 2021. The CMA has noted that the firm will be required to comply with continuous obligations established by the Authority including continuous reporting on a quarterly basis.