CAIRO: Amid the ongoing wave of wage strikes and undercurrents of social unrest in response to spiraling food prices, the Minister of Investment suggested that corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies could expedite the trickle down effect of the government’s economic reform measures.
“Policies that seek to achieve more growth as well as better wages present a remedy to poverty and unemployment and an aspiration for more progress, said Minister Mahmoud Mohieddin. “CSR initiatives support such policies and ensure that private investors support their community.
Mohieddin stressed that the government’s economic reform efforts take into account a social dimension in the hope they would trickle down to less privileged segments of society.
Despite ongoing social tension across the country, government officials have constantly been hailing the reform process a significant milestone for Egypt.
The economy grew to almost 7.5 percent, its fastest annual pace in decades. Foreign direct investments currently lie in excess of $11 billion, up from less than $1 billion four years ago.
Meanwhile, the majority of Egyptians remain dissatisfied with these reforms and complain from an intangible trickle down effect. Violence in the long queues for state-subsidized bread – the price of which has risen 26.5 percent over the past year – has spread across the country, killing at least seven Egyptians. A strike in the Nile Delta town of Mahalla early this month led to riots, in which three people were killed and more than 100 injured, while protesting high cost of food products and low pay.
“Soaring food prices can be solved by moving forward in our reform efforts as well as formulating public-private partnership schemes, Mohieddin emphasized.
The minister’s comments were made during a Wednesday event held to announce a grant agreement between Sixth of October for Development and Investment Company (SODIC) and the Young Arab Leaders (YAL) organization. Under its CSR strategy, SODIC contributed LE 750,000 to help kick in YAL’s Youth Outreach Program in Egypt.
“What we are witnessing today is a means to support the society’s less privileged, the minister commented.
Launched in 2006, the Youth Outreach Program aims to develop skills of both university students and young Arab professionals across the region.
The organization has so far launched chapters in the Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine. The official launch of the Egyptian chapter is due before the end of this year.
“At YAL, we want to help university students by exposing them to the right training, regionally and abroad. We also want to help young professionals with three years of experience by offering them internships in different countries across the region and the world, explained Assem Kabesh, CEO of YAL.
“Furthermore, we seek to support and help entrepreneurs who have good business plans but lack funding or those who have good ideas but don’t know how to implement them. . We want to help those who are less privileged than you and me, those who didn’t get the support they need in life even though they could be as good as you and me.
Under SODIC’s grant, 25 Egyptian university students and young professionals will receive training on different skills, including communications, language and computer skills, in a bid to equip young Egyptians with qualifications required in the labor market.
“Today’s initiative is a joint effort of our sense of duty towards our community and its future, Kabesh said. “The region still relies on expatriates, but it is time we developed our youth who play a strategic role in investing for a better future.
Candidates will receive training in Germany, Singapore, New York as well as other regional countries throughout 2008. “We are trying to give them a flavor of the international arena rather than the regional alone, he pointed out.
The grant marks YAL’s first presence in Egypt, where it hopes to roll out nationwide and provide training for thousands of Egyptian students and young entrepreneurs. For Kabesh, such an objective can be done.
“Amazingly, there are a lot of people now that want to help and want to give something back to their community, he said.
“In Egypt, we’ve had a very good start because it’s important for us to have work on the ground, a company that supports us before we establish our chapter in Egypt, Kabesh continued. “Usually, you establish a chapter first, then start looking for funding. But in Egypt, it happened the other way around because of how active SODIC is [in CSR].
“At SODIC, we strongly believe that to sustain current leap in Egypt, we have to develop our youth and educate them, and YAL is a pioneer in this, said Maher Maksoud, SODIC’s managing director.
“Education creates calibers that will benefit the country and increase its productivity. It has now become an economic necessity to match education techniques with current requirements in the labor market.
Throughout its year and a half of operations, YAL has successfully reached 500 university students and professionals across the region s business spectrum. The pan-Arab organization seeks to launch next year new chapters in Syria, Morocco, and Tunisia, putting an eye on the entire Arab World.