Inside Ewart Hall at the AUC Tahrir Campus, on March 30, 2022, the closing ceremony of the AUC School of Business’s campaign on responsible business ‘This is how I moved my #BusinessForward’ took place, with the participation of a range of companies and industry experts to witness the announcement of the awarded companies. The campaign awards recognize the efforts of participating companies to keep their businesses environmentally friendly and socially responsible.
Since its launch in December, the campaign’s main focus was to bring under the spotlight the inspirational efforts of companies working in our local context to create sustainable and socially responsible businesses, in hopes that their narratives inspire other businesses to find their own formulae to be responsive to their communities. The campaign witnessed the engagement of 170 companies and 13 were shortlisted. The audience was invited to vote on the most inspiring stories through the Business Forward website as one of the award tracks. The other track involved members of the campaign’s jury selecting four companies that demonstrated best practices based on five main criteria, mainly considering community engagement, impact, consistency and integration with the business model, and benefits and gains to the business.
The campaign was powered by major corporates who partnered with the AUC School of Business and Business Forward to amplify the message and raise the needed awareness about impactful business practices, namely CIB Egypt, The Coca Cola Company, L’Oréal Egypt and Vodafone Egypt. The closing ceremony was an inspiring conclusion of the campaign, shedding light on the sincere efforts of companies in the area of social responsibility and how these principles are embedded in their daily operations. “This is a drop in the ocean of all the efforts that need to be made by corporations and the business community towards sustainability,” said Dean of the AUC School of Business, Sherif Kamel, mentioning the timeliness of this campaign as Egypt plans for the hosting of the COP27 in November 2022. He also expressed his gratitude for the corporates that shared their experience in this campaign, noting that it would not have taken place without the support of these partners. Kamel also extended his thanks to the members of the jury who took the time out of their schedules to choose the best inspirational social responsibility stories and share their expertise. Kamel added that the AUC School of Business has always believed that its focus should be on the wellbeing of the society, noting that is important to learn from the stories of success and failure of businesses navigating challenging times.
Representing the campaign’s corporate partners, Dalia Abdelkader, chief sustainability officer of CIB Egypt; Hala Abdel Wadood, director of public affairs, communication and sustainability for North Africa in the Coca Cola Company; Nahla Mokhtar; communications and sustainability responsible director in L’Oréal Egypt; and Ayman Al-Saadany, head of regulatory, public policy and government relations in Vodafone Egypt, joined the stage as a video of their responsible business models played on screen.
The jury-selected winning companies were invited to come up to the stage to present their work and learnings and engage in a discussion with the partner companies. One of the awarded companies was MùBun Sustainable Furniture, a supplier of eco-friendly sustainable furniture created with zero heat and carbon emissions by upcycling leftover wood, represented by its founder, Sarah El-Battouty. Also awarded by the jury was the Egyptian German Company (EGIC), a provider of water pipes and water drainage solutions in Egypt that works to serve the community through targeted interventions in poor villages, improving the working conditions of plumbers, and providing restorative solutions to workplace accidents in the plumbing sector, represented by Ahmed Assem, the company’s brand manager. Juhayna, the leading Egypt-based food manufacturer was also among the companies selected for the jury awards, and was represented by Passant Fouad, external communications director, who spoke about the ways her company engages with the community, addressing gender, diversity, environmental, entrepreneurship and health issues. The fourth jury-selected model was that of the major electronics manufacturer Samsung Electronics Egypt, represented by Moussa Georgy, senior communications manager. Samsung was awarded for its Innovation Campus, a digital learning hub for Egyptian young people to learn coding and programming.
In his keynote speech, Ali Abu Senna, CEO of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency encouraged companies in Egypt to become more innovative, whether they were large corporates or Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), in order to keep pace with new changes and ensure their continuity. He pointed out that the government is making tremendous efforts to ensure the adaptation to and mitigation of climate change. “Although Egypt contributes only 6 percent to world emissions, it has spent millions of dollars to limit climate change effects. For example, we have the largest solar park in the Middle East in Benban, Aswan. We have also developed a program to protect the Nile Delta from the effects of climate change. Within the framework of this program, Egypt has spent over EGP 100 billion on adaptation projects, and more is to come.
Moreover, the Ministry of Environment realizes the importance of addressing climate change, which is why we established the National Council for Climate Change. At first, it was under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment, but now it is directly affiliated to the Cabinet, and is headed by the Prime Minister, with the participation of all concerned ministries, including the Ministries of Environment, Trade, Agriculture, and others,” he added.
Abu Senna said that the Egyptian government has completed the National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change. It was developed consensually among all concerned ministries. Within the strategy, several high-priority programs and projects were approved to be adopted in the coming COP27, including desalination projects using solar power and developing agricultural crops that can adapt to climate change.
At the end of the closing ceremony, NACH Camp, Upfuse, and Peacock Sustainable Designs were announced as the three most-voted for companies out of the 13 shortlisted participants . NACH Camp is a startup that provides environmental solutions to pollution using low-tech methods in production. Upfuse is a Cairo-based sustainable brand that produces fashion products that are 100 percent made of recycled material. Peacock Sustainable Designs is a company specialized in creating house décor items out of wasted palm leaves. The awards were presented to the winning companies, both those selected by the jury and those selected by the audience, and the ceremony was concluded with group pictures taken on stage to commemorate the event.