Emirates Foundation 2015 Youth Philanthropy Summit opens with talent as central focus for impact

ABU DHABI, 27th October, 2015 (WAM) — Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister and Chairman of Emirates Foundation, Emirates Foundation today launched its third annual Youth Philanthropy Summit, under the theme, “Maximizing Impact through Deploying Top Talent.”
On its first day, the summit united a wide range of participants from local, regional and global business experts, government representatives, youth, philanthropy professionals and social investment experts, to discuss key trends impacting the future of the philanthropy sector and the role of talent in delivering impact and sustainability.
The summit was inaugurated by Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport and Managing Director of the Emirates Foundation.
Keynote speakers include Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State and Managing Director of the Dubai World Expo 2020, H.R.H Princess Bandari Al Faisal, Director-General of the King Khalid Foundation, Bader Jafar, CEO of Crescent Enterprises and founder of the Pearl Initiative, as well as regional and experts on social investment and philanthropy.
Other participants included representatives from the Shell Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, Crescent Petroleum, the King Khalid Foundation, the Magrabi Foundation, Geneva Global and the regional network of foundations, the Arab Foundations Forum, AFF, which Emirates Foundation chairs.
In his opening remarks, Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan highlighted the importance of talent as a key contributor to the success of philanthropic efforts and the development of the sector. He also called on public and private organisations and decision makers to embrace the paradigm shift that the sector is witnessing in its quest for impact.
He noted the importance of human capital in bringing more business acumen to the sector and improving impact and innovation.
The two day summit includes four main plenary sessions and 10 interactive workshops. It aims to provide a knowledge sharing platform to talk about ‘what works’ but also ‘what doesn’t work’. It provides an opportunity to share the latest thinking in the sector, notably around new financial approaches to philanthropy such as social impact bonds, impact investing and mission related investing.
The summit also highlights new models for strategic philanthropy such as venture philanthropy, which is gaining ground globally. This model takes a ‘business-based’ approach to philanthropy, looking at measureable output, scalable results and a drive to scale up impact while reducing subsidy.
Speaking about the summit, Clare Woodcraft, CEO of Emirates Foundation, said, “Attracting, developing and retaining talent is being recognised as essential to achieving the results-driven venture philanthropy model that will shape the future of the sector. To attain this goal, we need to act now, putting in place strategic and focused talent development models that will not only be essential to accelerating development, but will contribute to the professionalisation of the sector.”
“Creating a transformational shift in the youth philanthropy sector cannot happen in isolation. The summit is an important part of a year round platform for engagement and ongoing interaction we are establishing in the UAE and the region, between experts and organisations, creating an eco-system to deliver on our shared mission to effectively address the most pressing social challenges,” she added.
The panel debates include Farah Foustok, CEO, Lazard Asset Management, Middle East, Hassan Al-Damluji, Head of ME Relations, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Tamer Makary, Executive Director, Magrabi Foundation, Kurt Hoffman, Director, RECIPCO, Chris West, Partner, Sumerian Partners, Maysa Jalbout, CEO, Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, Taleb Salhab, VP of Programmes, Education for Employment, Neal Keny Guyer, CEO, Mercy Corps, Neil Reynolds, Regional Managing Director, CH2M Hill, David Seddon, Portfolio Director at Social Business Trust, Parastou Yousefi, Bill and Melinda Gates, Sultan Al Hajji, Vice President, Total and Andrew Vaughan, Country Chair, Abu Dhabi, for Shell.
Maytha Al Habsi, Chief Programme Officer at Emirates Foundation, expressed her deepest gratitude to H.H. Sheikh Abdullah and appreciation to board members for their efforts in supporting the foundation’s programmes, and reaffirmed that these were among the most important success factors for the summit and its role as a leading local, regional and international platform.
Al Habsi added, “Our focus on youth talent at the summit this year stems from our acknowledgement that no matter how good a business idea may be, or how well it is designed, ultimately it is the skills and leadership of its talent that make a venture successful. The need for business skills greater accountability and transparency in the philanthropy sectors is primordial, however, these principles cannot resonate if we don’t have the right skills to implement them.”
Al Habsi also addressed attendees who are participating in the interactive workshops by saying, “We encourage you to come forward with innovative ideas, suggestions or recommendations to address the challenges facing the philanthropy sector, with a view to incorporating as many of them as possible into this summit’s final proceedings.”
The summit also witnessed the launch of a Child Safety Campaign as an integrated and nation-wide youth initiative that seeks to build awareness and engagement around this vital issue that impacts children and youth nationwide. The campaign, championed by SANID, Emirates Foundation’s Emergency response programme, aims to train more than 3,000 adults and 3,000 children in its first year on injury prevention, but also preparedness for, and management of, injuries.
Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Maytha al Habsi said, “Ensuring the safety of our children is not only a public health concern, it’s at the core of social and economic development. Through this programme, which will be designed and implemented by SANID volunteers, we will be building awareness and engagement around this initiative nation-wide and educating our children and their care takers with view of drastically reducing incidences of childhood injuries.”
The first day of the summit saw the launch of two ground breaking research reports. The first one, entitled, “Persistence in the Abu Dhabi STEM Pipeline” is a joint collaboration between Emirates Foundation and Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government. The report will present the latest findings regarding barriers to the pursuit of STEM careers in Abu Dhabi and recommendations to strengthen the STEM pipeline among youth.
Commenting on the report, Professor Raed Awamleh, Dean of Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government, MBRSG, said, “The report focuses on the education and business sectors of the UAE at large. It provides critical insight on the reasons why Emirati secondary school students select a specific major, humanities or the science stream. More importantly, the report evidences the UAE’s ongoing efforts to build Emirati leaders in the public and private sectors through encouraging the participation of UAE national talent in entrepreneurial activities.”
He added, “Compiled in cooperation with the Emirates Foundation, the report articulates our priority at MBRSG to aance the region’s innovation process through academic research. We are keen to join hands with all government institutions in the country to support the UAE’s vision to emerge as a knowledge-based economy and achieve top ranking on the global competitiveness index.”
The second report, conducted by The Philanthropy Age and entitled, ‘Arab Giving Survey’, offers a snapshot of modern attitudes to the culture of giving, endemic in the Middle East, sheds light on donors’ priorities and suggests how potential donors can best be reached.
Championing youth philanthropy in the UAE, Emirates Foundation is creating platforms, such as the summit, to enable the exchange of experiences, lessons learned on how to promote the culture of giving, youth development, and implementation of venture philanthropy based on partnership and cooperation, innovation and creativity stemming from its belief that understanding and responding to the needs of youth is the best way to achieve sustainable impact.
Tomorrow’s sessions will take a deeper dive into challenges faced by youth across the region, with the morning panels focusing on The Coming Jobs Challenge, Employee Engagement and Enterprise, Preparing Youth for the C-Suite, and Incentivising Performance in what promises to be another day of engaging conversations.