Dubai, 22 April 2014 – Distinguished Guests, Members of the Samena Capital Family, Ladies and Gentlemen:
The year 2014 brims with promising investment opportunities, and I welcome all of you from the SAMENA region who have assembled to promote prosperity. I wish that young people from the different countries represented here could observe your actions and hear your conversations. They would learn the meaning of the word entrepreneur. They would learn the essential value of knowledge, experience, and clear thinking. They would learn the advantages of collaboration and cooperation, of friendship and trust. They would learn a great deal about success.
Your success is society’s success. You risk money and reputation to create value. That added value fuels the economy, enriches society, and invites young men and women to follow in your footsteps.
Now that I have been heading another ministry in the UAE for little more than a year, I have a new appreciation of Samena Capital. As the Minister of Culture, Youth, and Community Development, I more clearly see the effect of investment on our entire population of young people, not just those immersed in higher education. Opportunity for the youth of our various countries really does depend on the health of the local economy. In my ministry we are organizing to consider UAE youth holistically, and the result will be a National Youth Strategy. You all know well the standard process for strategic planning that will guide us. And if you remember your own youth or have engaged young people recently, you will recognize the challenge of our task. You might be tempted to describe it as planning to herd cats. But we will plan because “a country’s only true resource is its youth.” Those words, so emphatically uttered by our nation’s founder, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahayan, are a vital thread in the DNA of my ministry. As we develop our National Youth Strategy, we hope to assume correctly that the adults who make deals and invest in businesses are succeeding and are themselves creating opportunity for our youth.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I hope that the future success of Samena Capital will be measured by more than its financial bottom line alone. I hope that we will be able to say that Samena investments helped in a significant way to improve and strengthen society. I have in mind a triple bottom line, that is, a bottom line for profit, a bottom line for planet, and a bottom line for people. If we were oblivious to profit, we would not be here. And we know that Samena invests only in law-abiding companies with a sound record of concern for our global environment.
But as I survey the corporate scene, I wonder about the extent to which businesses are applying their most notable strength when seeking to affect people favorably. That strength is the ability to innovate and put new ideas into effect in entrepreneurial fashion. You will display that strength during this conference. You will be shaping new ideas, thinking about the best ways to implement them, accounting for risks, and calculating the assets necessary for achieving success. If businesses in which Samena invests can be innovative and entrepreneurial about profits, they can also be innovative and entrepreneurial about people. I am imagining attitudes and actions that go beyond financial support for established charitable institutions, vital though those contributions are. I am imagining social entrepreneurship as a hugely exciting and promising element of a truly successful business.
My interest in social entrepreneurship has intensified in my new ministerial position. I have come to realize the need for social entrepreneurs in the private sector. Let’s concentrate this morning on just two elements of society, employees and young people.
Although no two companies have identical labor forces, some issues may be common to all. Here are a few possibilities:
- Mental well-being.
- Job satisfaction.
- Treatment as a dignified human being.
- Effective medical care.
- Education and training for advanced positions.
- Recreational and fitness facilities.
- Child care facilities.
- Safe working conditions.
- Reasonable hours.
- Fair pay.
- Prompt pay according to a set schedule without fail.
- Housing allowance or provision of truly adequate housing.
- Safe and comfortable transportation on the job.
- Quality and sufficiency of meals if furnished with employment.
Those are issues that civilized people care about. They are issues for all employees. And they are issues about which very few company leaders can honestly say: “We have met the highest standard in every single category.” Every company can, with respect to some or many of those issues, do better.
Enter social entrepreneurship. Innovative ideas for improvement and solution of problems. Innovative ideas for meeting costs. Innovative ideas for constructing a business plan to achieve goals. Entrepreneurial spirit in implementing the plan. Those are the natural activities of successful businesses. I am suggesting that those activities be conducted on behalf of a company’s employees.
Social entrepreneurship is also applicable to the youth of the community that houses a business. For young people, both male and female, these basic issues, for example, are among their concerns:
- Community service.
- Sports and recreation.
With regard to any one of those concerns, a company could well ask this question: How can our company become a positive force in the lives of young people? Imaginative and innovative answers to that question would lead to entrepreneurial projects that would enrich the community. And such projects competently completed, would be a grand advertisement for the company.
The reason I am talking about social entrepreneurship is that every country’s biggest social entrepreneur – that is, the government – needs the help of the private sector. By now, many companies in the Samena region are helping governments care for the environment. The leaders of those companies have come to recognize that governments by themselves cannot save the planet. But we all need to extend that recognition to the far more complex matter of the people. Although governments by their very nature are irreplaceable social entrepreneurs, we must acknowledge that all governments have their limitations. Governments have finite resources and relatively few of the country’s innovative entrepreneurs.
In the United Arab Emirates, for example, His Highness the President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahayan, consistently encourages business entrepreneurs. With the support of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahayan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces, the UAE has become a favorite destination for entrepreneurs from all over the world. Our reputation for thinking big and taking risks no doubt influenced the decision that has given us Dubai Expo 2020. But implicit in our government’s steadfast support for business entrepreneurs is an expectation that they will devote some of their immense imagination, talent, energy, and skill to the bottom line that is the people, the people whom they employ and the people among whom they live.
No country can thrive if its only social entrepreneur is its government. No government employs the majority of its country’s entrepreneurs. Most of a country’s entrepreneurs lead the businesses and corporations that fuel the country’s economy. When those business entrepreneurs become innovative social entrepreneurs who themselves create social value, a country will be rich beyond belief. And, by the way, the social media will be abuzz with celebrations of the achievements. In the new world of social media that Ms.Yang knows so well and will explain to us momentarily, all businesses and corporations are subject to comment instantaneously. They can do no better than to create social value and let the tweets and Instagrams begin.
I hope that the discussions at this Strategic Ownership Group meeting will touch from time to time on the possibility that Samena investments could inspire and advance social entrepreneurship. Our youth and the governments of our countries will be ever grateful.
And I am grateful, as ever, to Samena Capital’s wise Chairman V-Nee Yeh, to our phenomenal Vice-Chairman and CEO Shirish Saraf, and to the extraordinarily talented investment team of Samena Capital. Thank you for bringing us together. We will make the most of our eleventh reunion.
My best wishes to you all.