12th edition of CSR Summit, brought to you by Etisalat, sees CSR initiatives in the Middle East focus on social entrepreneurship and originality


Dubai, 16 May 2015: Corporate social responsibility is becoming increasingly engrained in Middle East business strategies, with an emphasis on gender equality, innovation and social entrepreneurship, a sustainability expert has said.


Noha Hefny, Director of Corporate Affairs for PepsiCo, Asia, Middle East and Africa, believes there has been a tangible shift in businesses and organisations in the region taking responsibility for improving sustainability methods and in tackling change through social innovation.


Hefny is one of more than 50 international and regional experts speaking at the 12th CSR Summit, held under the patronage of HE Khaled Al Kamda, Director General, Community Development Authority from the Government of Dubai who will deliver the keynote address on the opening day.


HE Khaled Al Kamda said: “This 12th edition of the CSR Summit is particularly significant for businesses as it addresses how CSR is an investment.  Far from being a financial burden, CSR is something that generates value. It provides organisations with a ‘Social License to Operate,’ which builds a positive brand image and grants credibility with the community, the government, investors and partners.


“Its numerous benefits include operational efficiency, increased productivity, loyalty, reputation, new market opportunities and long-term growth. It all adds up to businesses being able to see measurable, tangible results from adopting CSR practices. These are just some of the issues that will be explored in detail during the summit.”


Speaking ahead of her presentation at the upcoming CSR Summit, brought to you by Etisalat and running from 18-21 May at The Address Hotel, Dubai Marina, Hefny said, “We live in an era in which CSR and business are mutually beneficial. CSR is not about simply about donating money to a good cause, it is about helping communities to thrive through sustainable approaches that tackle specific issues. Businesses are only able to operate and continue to grow if they are in thriving economies so it makes good business sense to help develop and grow the communities in which they operate.”


“Initiatives that provide women with career opportunities and empower young females through education and on the ground training are becoming an increasing area of focus for many corporates working across the region.”


“We are also seeing a strong focus on entrepreneurship and a rising interest in social entrepreneurship.  At PepsiCo, CSR doesn’t mean we run our business normally and ‘do good’ on the side orsubtract from the bottom line to boost our reputation or forego profits to ease our conscience.


“It means that we bring together what is good for our business with what is good for the world. CSR is part of our corporate values and mission of Performance with Purpose – ourbelief that our financial success – Performance – mustgo hand-in-hand with our social and environmental responsibilities – our Purpose.”


PepsiCo will be hosting Illac Diaz, from My Shelter Foundation to showcase the Liter of Light, award winning project at the summit. Hefny will co-share a session on the power of social innovation with Illac Angelo Diaz, Founder and Director of Liter of Light and winner of the Zayed Future Energy Prize for non-profit, who will explain to audiences how a simple plastic bottle can provide effective solar lighting solutions to communities in need during his discussion, ‘Changing the World Sustainability a Liter at a Time’.


The plastic bottles are filled with water, and bleach to inhibit algal growth, and are fitted through the roof of a home to provide as much light, during the day, as a 40- to 60-watt lightbulb, with zero carbon emissions. The global open source movement provides ecologically-sustainable lighting solutions, free of cost, to simple dwellings around the world and recycles plastic bottles at the same time.


Among the speaker line-up are H.E. Shaima Al Zarooni, CEOof the International Humanitarian City in Dubai;Manish Tiwary, Managing Director at Unilever Gulf; Clare Woodcraft-Scott, CEO at Emirates Foundation; and Ayman Mokhtar, General Manager – GulfCountries & Yemen at SANOFI .


The four-day CSR Summit willinclude speed networking sessions, CSR Excellence Awards, live interactive voting for the best social initiativeprepared by young students from UAE, an NGO-focus hub and CSR boot camps to transfer learning into actionable strategies.


Ali Al Ahmed, Adviser to CEO at Etisalat, added: “The UAE’s drive for innovation under the visionary leadership of the nation is a key factor governing businesses to redesign their CSR strategies and programmes, helping contribute to the knowledge-based, smart society of the future.


“In terms of CSR trends and the future, therefore, the UAE is uniquely placed and some of the ‘taken for granted’ CSR concepts imported from western counterparts may not be applicable here.  By contributing to such a unique and evolving CSR landscape of the UAE, we are excited to partner with the organisers of the CSR Summit in building a platform for discussions and sharing compelling ideas on this subject.”


The CSR Summit, brought to you by Etisalatis supported by Strategic Partner Etisalat; Gold Sponsor PepsiCo Asia, Middle East and Africa;Innovation Partner intel; and Silver Sponsors Unilever and Canon, while Friends of Cancer Patients is the official event charity.