The Zubair Corporation has embedded sustainability into the core of its business operations to create shared value for business and society
In line with its CSR strategy, the Zubair Corporation (Z-Corp) has been making valuable contribution to the socio-economic development of Oman. Understanding that it is important for companies to create shared value by playing a role in advancing socio-economic development in the country, Z-Corp has been providing employment opportunities, skills development and training interventions to not just its employees but the larger community. In addition, the corporation has been investing in social service activities as well. “We are proud to state that creating economic and social value is at the heart of Z-Corp’s activities,” Ibrahim Abdullah Al Salmi, social communication manager of Z-Corp. “Our aspiration is to bring about sustainable and net economic benefit to our country. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a significant part of Z-Corp’s commitment to society. Whether it is creating public libraries, promoting road safety, building and renovating homes and mosques, organising fundraisers, supporting health, sport and educational programmes, Z-Corp has been at the forefront of many community-based activities.”
He adds, “We have also established a number of educational and cultural facilities. Focusing on youth we have been providing scholarships and thereafter job opportunities in Z-Corp companies. One of the major initiatives of the Z-Corp is the Zubair Small Enterprises Centre (Zubair SEC) which reflects the company’s belief in the importance of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in enhancing the national economy and contributing to sustainable socio-economic development. We have embedded sustainability into the core of our business operations to create shared value for business and society”.
Z-Corp has undertaken a number of socially impactful initiatives and its policies, practices and initiatives have had a positive impact on social and economic well-being of the country. The corporation has a dedicated social advisory committee, formed to provide a broad-based approach to enhance social well-being and contribute to community building. Elaborating on some of the initiatives that have resulted in economic, social and environmental benefits, Ibrahim informs that under the ‘Iqra’ initiative, Z-Corp has opened libraries across the country including six in Royal Hospital Salalah, three each in Nizwa, Rustaq and Ibra hospitals, another four in Royal Hospital in Muscat and some libraries at the National Cardiology Centre at the Royal Hospital in Muscat and Samail Hospital. The main aim of the ‘Iqra’ has been to promote a reading culture and endorse Omani literature and authors. Another socially impactful project is ‘For Them’, an initiative designed to train and empower parents of autistic children with best practices. The cultural arm of Z-Corp, Bait Al Zubair Foundation has been devoted to preserving and advancing Oman’s heritage. It manages Bait Al Zubair Museum and other projects relating to culture, arts, history, archaeology and the community.
As the mission of Z-Corp is to play a key role in the sustainable socio-economic development of Oman, it is of pivotal importance to invest in one of the most strategic and vital sectors of any economy – SMEs. Says Ibrahim, “Helping to enable a better equipped SME sector would contribute to a healthier economy, stronger and more diverse local supply chains, and empowered manpower, all allowing for a better landscape for all sizes of businesses to thrive in.”
Z-Corp established Zubair Small Enterprises Centre (Zubair SEC) in June 2013 to be a guiding and supporting arm for developing the culture of entrepreneurship in Oman and supporting young Omanis who aspire to achieve business success. Since establishment, the Centre has gone beyond the traditional notion of a ‘business incubator’ towards a holistic ecosystem providing support and motivation for the talented ambitious minds. It has also moved beyond traditional mentorship models towards one of partnership, collaboration and team work with its members.
“Our commitment towards the development of Oman is not a choice, but a strong belief, and a pledge to remain committed to supporting young Omanis, helping them to achieve their goals, while contributing towards economic diversification and prosperity for the coming generations,” explains Ibrahim.
To achieve its goal of supporting and stimulating the SME sector in Oman, Zubair SEC has built an integrated comprehensive support ecosystem, providing distinguished services:
Zubair SEC has been very keen on raising awareness on the importance of social impact through business. Efforts have been in place to advocate, train, and equip members with the needed knowledge and tools and awareness on how to run their businesses with social and environmental responsibility in mind. Certified advisors in social impact at Zubair SEC have been working closely with many of its members on tweaking and at times redesigning the business models to bring social impact at the heart of the business value proposition and scale it up as the business is growing.
Direct support programme
Efforts on developing and enabling social enterprises have also been in place, adopting such enterprises to be awarded through The Direct Support Programme (DSP) with helping grants and special advisory services. The primary goal of the Zubair SEC Direct Support Programme is to enhance positive competitiveness among its members and give them an added boost. The Programme rewards members who prove their commitment towards success and demonstrate dedication by practically applying the consultancy and advice provided to them by the centre. Members’ projects and businesses should also demonstrate proper strategic planning and accurate feasibility studies that reflect their eagerness to apply best business administration measures with the assistance of Zubair SEC.
Every year, Zubair SEC selects a number of members to join the Programme and benefit from the provided special consultancy, guidance, and financial grant to support their projects.
Acknowledging the responsibility of large companies in the development of SMEs as a vital aspect in the economic development of small businesses in Oman, Zubair SEC works to minimise the gap between its members and large enterprises across different sectors. The centre provides members with introduction services and cooperation opportunities with larger companies, while also working closely with its members to equip them to be up to the market requirements and challenges. The Centre has facilitated a number of contracts and agreements for many of its members with leading companies within and outside The Zubair Group companies.
Asked about the sustainable impact of the initiatives, Ibrahim replies, “Enabling and equipping entrepreneurs and owners of start-ups and small enterprises could result in the most sustainable impact to achieve as it is considered an investment in the business capacity of an economy through its people. When the needed mind-set and paradigm shift is set for those young Omanis, strengthening them with knowledge, tools, connections, and insight on how to best grow their business, they would hold better opportunities to grow with their business and hence scale up the social and economic impact of the centre – through its members – into wider levels and reaches in the country. As such, the effort being put in the first few years of the business life of those projects and owners is crucially important, as we are not only advising the young owners on how to run their business, but also on how to be resilient and ready to take in the changing market dynamics with tact and proper strategic approach. So even if some business owners would change course with their business later on, our investment in them as individuals will remain there serving their business endeavors for years and years to come.”
He furthers, “we also do not work in silo; through the collaboration with various entities and organisations in the country, together we are investing in and building a better ecosystem for SMEs to nourish and prosper; for the coming SME generations the playground would have already been paved and levelled so they stand better chances and entrepreneurship and self-employment might be the new normal for many.”
Ibrahim says that Z-Corp’s socially responsible initiatives are unique and innovative. “Whether it is the library initiative Iqra, autism support group ‘For Them’, a centre dedicated to SMEs and start-ups Zubair SEC – these and many others are innovative projects introduced by Z-Corp,” he explains.
Z-Corp accords to priority to contributing to society through long-term community initiatives. The corporation is committed to protecting and improving the lives of the people in the communities in which it operates. Ibrahim says as private sector companies have unique opportunities to give back to the society, the corporation is looking to back through volunteerism and resources.