9 February 2016       Download

Qalaa Holdings Co-Founder and Managing Director, Hisham El-Khazindar, discussed the private sector’s role in ushering in a new era of inclusive growth for Egypt at a forum organized by the American Chamber of Commerce and the UNDP

“Private sector investors are becoming increasingly aware that their ability to grow and generate profits is directly linked to the existence of a stable and prosperous society and thus there is tremendous overlap between the interests of the public and private sectors,” said Hisham El-Khazindar, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Qalaa Holdings, an African leader in energy and infrastructure.
El-Khazindar participated in the opening panel at the AmCham UNDP Forum; “Expanding Horizons in Development: The Rising Role of the Private Sector,” which was attended by former Mexican President Felipe Calderon during his visit to Cairo. El-Khazindar’s co-panelists included Minister of Social Solidaridy, Ghada Waly and Dina Sherif, Co-Founder, Ahead of the Curve and Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the American University in Cairo.
The focus of the panel, moderated by Laila Iskander, former Minister of Urban Renewal and Informal Settlements, was to discuss the findings of a new report published by the UNDP, the Egyptian Corporate Responsibility Center (ECRC) and the Industrial Modernization Center (IMC) on the role of the Egyptian private sector in development.
“We need to create an environment of inclusive growth to make sure that no one is left out,” said Waly. “This will require partnership and more private sector investments in sectors such as health, education, infrastructure and microfinance.”
Highlighting the fact that businesses can do more than just give back to society by donating a portion of profits to charitable organizations as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR), El-Khazindar noted that, “we need to move beyond the concept of CSR. The scale of the problems is so large that in order to achieve our development goals more businesses need to incorporate the social dimension as part of their core activities by pursuing the types of responsible or impact investments that will foster inclusive growth.
Since inception Qalaa Holdings has provided close to EGP 400 million in funding across a spectrum of projects.
“Out of belief in the importance of investing in human capital and the future leaders of Egypt, we established the Qalaa Holdings Scholarship Foundation (QHSF) in 2006. This year we are celebrating our 10th anniversary. Including the 2016 class of scholarship recipients, the Foundation will have provided more than 150 scholarships for Egyptian students to pursue graduate studies abroad at some of the world’s most prestigious universities with one condition, that they return to work in Egypt after graduation, which is something that we are extremely proud of. It is sustainable philanthropy,” said El-Khazindar. “We have also joined the United Nations Global Compact (UNCG) out of a belief in transparency and accountability, and have evolved from CSR to responsible, impact investing,” he added.
Qalaa has been a regional pioneer in the area of impact investing by pursuing what can be referred to as the “the Double Bottom Line,” a term coined to measure a company’s success based on both positive social impact and financial performance.
“Over the years we have tried to invest in businesses that spur job creation, develop human capital by transferring knowledge to the wider community, and provide products or services that will have a positive impact on the lives of average citizens such as gas distribution, electricity generation, solid waste management and even microfinance through our subsidiary, Tanmeyah which directly addresses those at the base of the pyramid who have no access to the banking system,” said El-Khazindar.
Waly praised Qalaa’s and the private sector’s initiatives in pioneering solutions and addressing national challenges and invited them to continue their efforts. “Qalaa Holdings is doing great work by focusing on education, which is vital in order to develop generations of youth who can help rebuild the country.”
Qalaa Holdings was the first company in Egypt to receive an “A” grade rating from the UNGC’s Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) on its first Sustainability Report issued in 2015. The GRI which helps businesses and governments communicate the impact of business on critical sustainability issues, awarded Qalaa Holdings for aligning the company’s business operations with the UNGC’s principles for environmental, social and governance policies.
Sherif, who is the lead author of the UNDP Report, also noted that Qalaa Holdings is a company that is serious about the issue of self accountability. “Qalaa’s Sustainability Report is an excellent example of an Egyptian company that has moved beyond basic compliance to voluntarily report on where it stands against global sustainability indicators.”
"We represent the tip of the iceberg, we need to lead by example,” said El-Khazindar.