The Arab world urgently needs more social entrepreneurs to help make up for a lack of government and private sector investment and the failings of outdated CSR methods to support society’s long-term needs, experts say.
Helen Al Uzaizi, Director of the Board for the volunteerism and development network nakhweh.org, will tell delegates at Ta’atheer in Dubai next week that the region must discover a new generation of individuals who genuinely want to do good and make long-term changes if society is to flourish.
Al Uzaizi is one of 50 plus speakers who will be addressing Ta’atheer, formerly known as the CSR Summit that will take place at The Address Hotel, Dubai Marina from 22-25 May. The forum is held under the patronage of Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of State for Tolerance and Board Member of Friends for Cancer Patients.
“We need more social entrepreneurs in the region who can support the needs of society,” said Al Uzaizi. “They come in at a level that fills the voids that are left because governments are focused on their own growth agenda and the private sector businesses are driven by the bottom line most of the time.
“Having organisations that base their business model on creating an impact is a great way to bridge between the two and is very much needed today.
“Social enterprise is based on the premise that a business CAN operate while helping society at large and that the two are inter-connected. You can’t have a flourishing society without social entrepreneurs. People who want to do good, create impact and make change in the long-run.”
Supported by the Community Development Authority of the Dubai Government, Ta’atheer is the new name for the former CSR Summit which has re-branded in recognition of how attitudes are changing towards corporate social responsibility, and a shift in focus on business strategies aimed at ensuring long-term sustainable social impact.
Reflecting this shift, Al Uzaizi said: “CSR is outdated in this region. Whereas 15 years ago it was enough to give to a charity that donated clothes or food to the needy, there is now a real need to create long-term, sustainable change in the community.
“If we look at the biggest social contributors today, most of them are giving to research, education, employability, vocational training and general development initiatives rather than traditional charities.”
Another of the speakers at Ta’atheer, Sami Khoury, Executive Director at Young Arab Leaders, urges corporates to dig deeper rather than persist with “primitive” CSR programmes.
Said Khoury: “Corporations have the funding and abilities to contribute beyond donations and quick fixes by either developing dedicated departments that solve social/environmental problems, or playing a constant and active role in supporting organizations whose mission to create long term impact and sustainability.”
Ta’atheer is supported by Creating Shared Value Partner, Nestlé, Silver Sponsors MMV, ADIB and Johnson & Johnson, Bronze Sponsors Oman LNG and Aqaba Development Corporation and Official Charity Partner, Friends of Cancer Patients.
The forum will open with a keynote address by H.E. Khaled Al Kamda, Director General of the Community Development Authority of the Dubai Government, before speakers from organisations such as Nestlé, Facebook, Saudi Aramco and the World Economic Forum deliver thought-provoking presentations and panel discussions.