Live Blogging: WEF Business That Cares And Workspaces

الإثنين 19 أيار 2008

There is perhaps nothing as invigorating for me personally than seeing Fadi Ghandour talk about corporate social responsibility, and government responsibilities. Many of the words are ones he’s consistently repeated but each time they feel injected with a new sense of passion than before. CSR is not simply about companies “doing good” or even attempting to brand themselves as “being good”, but – as Ghandour made a point of saying during the first plenary session of the day that questioned whether Arab businesses really care – CSR is an investment, or should be seen as an investment by companies. Essentially, companies are investing in something, such as education, where they expect to see a return on that investment. It’s a good “businessey” way to put it in my opinion, especially with CSR being so new in the region and many companies looking at it from a very Public Relations point of view. Side note: Prime Minister Nader Dahabi has more security around him than 98% of the people here, including the Egyptian Prime Minister.

I got to attend a workspace on New Business Ventures in the Middle East, most of which focused on social entrepreneurship-based organizations such as INJAZ (Junior Achievement) and others who dealt with fields that include desertification, energy-savers, fair trade, etc. Soraya Salti, another Jordanian who is really making a difference in the community, was there with a student of the INJAZ program who won this year’s entrepreneur program under INJAZ, from Egypt. I took a video and I’ll be uploading it as soon as I can. The workspace is perhaps the most dynamic and interactive of all the sessions and it involves everyone getting involved essentially. After breaking up in to groups and experiencing the various business models presented, we mixed up the groups and were given a task to create a new business venture that made use of all the models, to create a new good or service. Some of the ideas that came about for example were “Green Hotels” that focused on eco-friendly hotels/tourism, and a “Sand 2 Food” program that focused on investing in new desert-based techniques to sell franchise kits for local farmers.

A few members of our group, including myself, are preparing now for a BBC debate. We will be panelists alongside some interesting personalities such as Ehud Barak, Jamal Mubarak, Salem Fayyad and Tony Blair. Joining us will be Israeli students so we’re looking forward to a very interesting debate.

Back later!

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