CSR Oman 2015 summit to focus on SMEs

Informa - CSR Oman Summit 2014

With the number of registered delegates rising, the CSR Oman Summit 2015 is on track to be a landmark event. Designed to champion corporate social sustainability, youth empowerment and entrepreneurship, the event continues to receive growing support, demonstrating the importance of the summit for the Sultanate, especially with this year’s agenda focusing on Small and Medium Enterprises (SME).

For its second consecutive annual event, organizer Informa Middle East has secured a plethora of prominent professionals from multiple industries to address the development of youth in local communities to tackle the issue of unemployment, in addition to SMEs, which represent the backbone of the national economy.

The event is the only one in Oman to gather SMEs, young businesspeople and students alongside the corporate sector, linking and guiding them on how to develop a sustainable business structure with symposiums on the socioeconomic impact of the SME sector. Although the local youth now have increased access to higher education, their opportunities for employment remain limited, and Oman relies heavily on foreign labour, primarily due to misconceptions with education and job readiness.

As a contributor towards building a clearer picture of CSR trends and challenges in the country, Joseph Martin, Director and Regional Leader in Clean Energy and Sustainability Services at Ernst & Young said, “Oman has a unique set of social and environmental challenges and CSR Oman Summit is a great opportunity to engage in dialogue, share ideas that can promote sustainable development for the Sultanate and support in identifying vocational skills to increase employability.”

Hoda Abdelhay, Conference Producer at Informa Middle East said, “The significance of this event is demonstrated by the broad range of high caliber professionals that are contributing to the summit itself and the masterclasses. Between Oman’s young population and approximately 90% of its business driven by SMEs, it is essential that these remain our two focal points if we are to maximize the potential for sustainable development. The forum provides an unrivalled opportunity to engage Oman’s future business generation in an open dialogue.”

Abdelhay added, “By utilizing the summit to explore, discuss and debate CSR, international best practices and industry insights, knowledge-exchange can have a very real and measurable impact on the growth of businesses across the Sultanate, and ultimately, support the diversification of the national economy.”

With the goal of bolstering mutual cooperation, in addition to incorporating the aspirations of the youth in line with the government’s ambition to build a more diverse, sustainable economy that creates jobs for Omanis, CSR Oman will showcase a multitude of case studies, hold insightful panel discussions, networking events and expert-led roundtable discussions to examine the latest trends and practices pertaining to developmental initiatives in CSR.

The sessions on SMEs will focus on development through best practices; filtering social investment into SME support pillars to generate economic growth; investing in SMEs while linking their growth with other business goals to create sustainable shared value models; integrating the culture of social entrepreneurship into the local education sector; moving away from philanthropy and developing strategic partnerships with SMEs.

Walaa Hamdan, Managing Director of CSR Watch Jordan said, “Companies are investing in developing local CSR talent and ensuring they have staff with proper CSR training. And we can see boards and top management getting more and more involved.” She continued, “For CSR to be sustainable it needs to be aligned with the company’s core business and fully integrated into the company’s culture. CSR strategies and programmes need to be measured and evaluated. For maximum impact, there needs to be a clear understanding of which elements are succeeding and which need fine-tuning.”

When asked about how CSR can contribute to SME development and social entrepreneurship in Oman, Walaa said, “SMEs should develop their own CSR programmes that are characterized by their efficiency and economy, showing organizations how to help them Also, companies can support SMEs through their CSR budgets, using them as suppliers or service providers and most importantly mentoring and encouraging them.”

Additional speakers that have joined the already impressive line-up include: H.E. Mohsin Bin Khamis Al- Balushi, Advisor, Oman Ministry of Commerce; Sarah Jackson, Country Director at AMIDEAST Oman; Alireza Sarabchi, General Business Manager, Nestlé; Walaa Hamdan, Managing Director of CSR Watch Jordan; Dr. Stephan Hill, Deputy Vice Chancellor at Sohar University; Joseph Martin, Director and Regional Leader in Clean Energy and Sustainability Services at Ernst & Young; Ammar Shams, Regional Head of Corporate Sustainability, HSBC Bank and Aziz Mohamed, Director Corporate Affairs Middle East, Mediterranean and Africa for HP.

CSR Oman 2015 will be held between 27th– 29th of October at the Grand Hyatt Muscat. The CSR Oman Summit 2015 is supported by Oman LNG, British Council, DUQM Refinery, and WorleyParsons. Delegates can register online for the three-day summit and the masterclasses that are in association with the George Washington University, by visiting the official website at www.csrsummitoman.com.

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