Strategic Social Investments from the Largest Private Equity Firm of the Middle East

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Strategic Social Investments from the Largest Private Equity Firm of the Middle East

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - 2:50pm


Posted by Dr. Fatih Mehmet Gul

Regional corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts pass the early stages and start bringing best practices which would compete with the practices from the other regions of the world. Regional banks and financial entities lead the new approach and you can find below a stakeholder engagement introduction from a private capital firm in the Middle East region.

Abraaj Capital, as the largest private equity firm in the region, believes fundamentally that they have a responsibility and duty to engage all of its forces and strengths behind the creation of vibrant economies, primarily through capital flows, investments and by accelerating cultural and developmental linkages across the growth markets in which they operate. As a leading company in their field, Abraaj Capital introduces a new way of CSR approach; ASSET (Abraaj Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement Tracks) is the parallel stakeholder-returns directed organization, which ensures the community goals set by the firm work in harmony with the principal financial one.

This approach leads Abraaj Capital to the simple logic that they are not just a company of 150 employees, but rather, their actions at any given point in time are responsible for the welfare of 30,000 to 50,000 employees and their families. They understood early that engagement with social issues, engagement with communication channels, engagement with governments and legislators and engagement with academic institutions and seats of learning would enable them to execute the vision of a private equity firm that could have a formidable multiplier effect deep into communities of all sorts through its holdings and partnerships.

ASSET fundamentally drives five distinct programs as listed below;

1. Social Investing: To execute their approach to Social Investing through two distinct channels: externally, by partnering with and developing the Abraaj Community Partner Organizations (ACPO) network and internally, through the Community Impact Program (CIP)

2. Stakeholder Engagement Platforms: Engaging and communicating on a continuous basis with key stakeholders in multiple dimensions concerned with long-term value creation in the global growth markets in which Abraaj Capital operates. This engagement extends to national, regional and international environmental and social actors who they engage with in the course of the business as a private equity firm but also in the wider dialogue and relations through ASSET

3. Abraaj Thought Leadership: Exhibiting consistent standards of Thought Leadership as these pertain to the future shape of the industry and the evolution of the regions in which Abraaj Capital operates

4. Transparency and Governance: Acting as a model of transparency and ethical standards through multiple and regular interaction with all stakeholders. Implementing best global practices in good governance through our ‘Holistic Compliance and Governance Framework’

5. Partner Company Engagement: Engaging and guiding the companies Abraaj Capital invests in to develop and execute their own approach to Social Investing, stakeholder engagement, and adopting best practice transparency and governance standards whilst participating in their thought leadership initiatives and incorporating ASSET requirements into due diligence processes and term sheets prior to investment decision-making

ASSET finds its resources in Abraaj Capital’s unique 5+5+5 program which is funded by 5% of the firm’s management fee income towards developing sustainable and philanthropic partnerships, with zero impact on the LP funds. 5% of the employee bonuses (on a voluntary basis) and a minimum of five days of volunteer work into targeted programs by each employee (3 of which are paid for by the firm). Through this program, ASSET deployed 2,800 Man Hours in 2010 and over USD 60 million into the five tracks under its responsibility over the past four years.

Abraaj Capital supports a cultural initiative as an art prize, reflecting their investment philosophy, which is to take viable businesses with great potential, and create regional and global champions. Abraaj Capital Art Prize (ACAP) (launched in 2008) is an art prize initiative specifically for the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region and the prize to reward proposals rather than completed works of art. The winning artists go on to create the works alongside an international curator appointed by ACAP. Once completed, the works become part of the Abraaj Capital Art Collection. At US$ 1 million in annual disbursements, it is the world’s most generous art prize.

Abraaj Capital as in their activities always leads an innovative approach and brings similar approach to the corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability activities. That technical approach and social initiatives will not only provide benefits to the regional communities, it will be also an important contribution to the regional business styles.


Dr. Fatih Mehmet GUL is the Founding Director of CSR Middle East and Country Manager for Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives. Dr. Gul is on the prestigious list of "2011 TOP 100 THOUGHT LEADERS in Europe and the Middle East". Follow Dr. Fatih Mehmet GUL on twitter @drfameg

Keywords: Sustainable Finance & Socially Responsible Investment | CSR Middle East | Finance | Investments | private equity