30 teams participated in the 2-day hiking and team-building event
CAIRO: It is not every day that you see professionals scaling untouched desert mountains, or screaming towards a finish line with carpets on their shoulders.
Just two days of this, however, was enough for 30 teams to raise funds for Upper Egypt, bring company teams closer together, and boost inter-corporation networking in BG s 3rd Egyptian Energy Challenge, organized by CARE Egypt.
The Challenge, taking place this year in El-Gouna from Nov. 10-11, demanded of its approximately 170 participants that they fundraise at least $4,000 in sponsorships per team for one day of difficult desert hiking and one day of physical and mental team-building activities.
Every event added something to us, said Muhammed Kareem of his HSBC group, the members of which he did not know before the event. We all came out of this like a team. Yasmin Farid agreed, This definitely brought us closer together.
The feelings of goodwill were not limited to team members however. Ola El-Gevoshy extolled a BG team that supported and advised her own team throughout the mountain climb, reflecting a larger atmosphere of cooperation and goodwill, starting with the 12 volunteers themselves.
Teamwork within companies and across sectors is an integral element to the Challenge Events, even including drivers and caterers on the teams. Offices can get quite large. Sometimes you don’t see each other, says BG Group Sponsorship Manager Catherine McQuilken. The event breaks down barriers to communication, taking professionals out of their formal settings, she adds, noting the opening of dialogue and exchange of knowledge that occurs spontaneously.
McQuilken also explained the physicality of the event: You spend a lot of time sitting in an office. The way to get people to think differently is to get them in a different setting.
Behind the scenes however, a more serious generosity is at hand – that of corporate social responsibility (CSR). BG started the event as part of its CSR initiatives in order to put something back into society, says McQuilken, and different participating companies either funded their teams or matched raised funds. We want to roll this model out across the business.
Scott Faiia, regional director of CARE, believes, Every human being on this planet has a responsibility to end poverty and injustice . Corporations are made up of people and so have similar responsibilities.
Both Faiia and CARE Events Manager Hala Youssef emphasized that CSR goes beyond fundraising. Faiia says the awareness, partnerships, and teamwork aspects are very important. Funds are also used strategically to leverage other donor funds, which can increase the final amount by a factor of ten, according to Faiia. For him, it is important to drag some people up there to actually witness the dire destitution of communities.
Youssef highlighted public-private partnerships and cooperation. CARE has, for example, trained companies in HIV/AIDS awareness and avian flu, and has alternately learned a lot from the private sector, including safety standards and technical expertise.
The BG Energy Challenge was first conducted in the UK 11 years ago and has since taken root in Trinidad & Tobago, Brazil, and Kazakhstan, raising over $3.6 million for charity.
Participants came predominantly from the oil and gas sector, with the largest showings from BG, ELNG, and BP. This year was the first to have more Egyptians participating than the heterogeneous mix of foreigners including Brits, Americans, Germans, Tunisians, and Canadians, among others.
In Egypt, as in the UK, all proceeds go to CARE projects, including water and sanitation, female education, sustainable agriculture, and democracy and governance. This year s proceeds are still being collected.
CARE was established worldwide after World War II and in Egypt in 1954 to work strictly with the poorest of the poor in Upper Egypt.