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CSR Annual Conference Advocates for Increasing Egypt’s Economic Competitiveness

17 April, 2017
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Representatives from major companies, small businesses and startups gathered at Cairo’s Conrad Hotel from April 10-11 to take part in the 3rd CSR Annual Conference under the title “Impact of CSR initiatives on improving Egypt’s economic competitiveness”. 

Organized by USAID, the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), and the International Labour Organization (ILO), the conference spearheaded a discussion about corporate social responsibility (CSR) in a room full of game changers. 

During the opening remarks, representatives from USAID, the FEI, the ILO and the Ministry of Housing gathered to discuss how CSR can pave the road toward sustainable economic development and encouraged the conference’s participants to take part in the process.

Speaking at the start of the conference, USAID Mission Director Sherry Carlin said: “Egypt has shown tremendous leadership in encouraging the private sector to become more responsible. […] More and more companies see the value of CSR.”  

“We know that Egypt has been going through hard times, but it is also time to focus,” said Peter Van Rooij, the director of the ILO Decent Work Team for North Africa/Cairo, remarking that with such focus the economy can only show progress. Rooij encouraged all practices that push economic projects forward. “CSR is a means for the business community to promote decent and productive work.”

As the ILO representative, Rooij joined representatives from the Bank of Alexandria, the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development, and the Professional Development Foundation to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the first CSR consortium on training and employing 1,200 women and youth in Upper Egypt, focusing on Luxor and Minya. 

The conference’s first day was broken up into a series of panels, including discussions on value chain development, impactful entrepreneurship, gender equality, child labor and inclusive employment, among others. 

During the panel on impactful entrepreneurship, a group of panelists gathered to discuss ways entrepreneurship can drive economic growth, but most importantly how companies and societies can create an environment that promotes entrepreneurs and their ideas that aim to push society forward. 

The CEO and co-founder of KarmSolar, Ahmed Zahran, pointedly said: “CSR is not a luxury, it is something obligatory, it is something compulsory.” 

Panelists discussed the roadblocks they have encountered on their path to success, including financial difficulties and problems with solvency, as well as an acceptance for their ideas, commitment to their projects, and the work ethic in Egypt compared to other countries. 

The conference’s second day was dedicated to the first “CSR Matchmaking Forum” in which participants were invited to network with each other for a greater understanding of what others are doing to promote CSR and to create an opportunity for face-to-face meetings in the hope of connecting future collaborators. 

“[This is a] forum for stakeholders that aims to push forward the wheels of business,” said FEI Vice Chairperson Tarek Tawfik ahead of the matchmaking event. “Today marks the first opportunity to coordinate and create a system that will lead to sustainable development.” 

Also speaking before the start of the matchmaking event was Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr. Nasr said she had three messages to deliver, the first being that the “economic reform program could not be successful without the private sector and civil society”. She added that “partnership is the only thing that will make our country successful. 

The minister’s second message was to say that the role of civil society is important in supporting Egypt and its youth, while her third message stressed upon the importance of mega enterprises being supportive of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), because “they have the power to drive growth and increase employment”.   

 

Tags CSR CSR Annual Conference Federation of Egyptian Industries USAID International Labour Organization economic development