The Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) along with the Unites States Agency for International Development (USAID) will announce on Monday a new corporate social responsibility (CSR) project called ‘3R’, Senior Advisor at the FEI, El Sayed Torky, said.
“Recruitment, retraining, and retention, is abbreviated to ‘3R’. We have already signed the project’s memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the past few days, and we will announce it today during the fifth conference on CSR and boosting regional partnership for development,” declared Torky.
Daily News Egypt interviewed Torky to learn more about the FEI’s CSR activities, in cooperation with several financial institutions, on the occasion of holding its CSR annual conference on Monday, the transcript of which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
Would you please elaborate on the importance of the 3R project with the USAID?
The ‘3R’ project aims to limit the employment turnover through the development of human resources management in 120 FEI member companies. We will hold several workshops with the companies which we will choose during the fifth conference on CSR and boosting regional partnership for development.
The FEI believes in the importance of CSR, in cooperation with international partners, and the Egyptian government’s plans in terms of the 2030 Vision. We would like our CSR projects and initiatives to be implemented in parallel with the country’s ones. Five Egyptian ministries are supporting our conference as we believe that we should not work separately.
Does the FEI cooperate with the USAID in any other projects?
Yes, we have also signed a Workforce Improvement and Skills Enhancement (WISE) partnership. Our partnerships guarantee the projects’ sustainability, and the USAID is entirely funding the ‘3R,’ which will be implemented immediately after the conference.
Which ministries collaborated with the conference?
The conference is held under the patronage of ministries of investment and international cooperation, social solidarity, trade and industry, education and technical education and planning, monitoring and administrative reform.
Did you cooperate with international organisations?
We have started our international cooperation with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and then we expanded with many other esteemed foundations.
Would you please elaborate on this year’s version of the conference?
What is special about this version is the focus on regional partnerships, including the African participation, which is in line with Egypt’s presidency of the African Union (AU). We feel proud of the conference’s convention since 2014. About 250 persons participated in the 2014 version which was a good number as a start, and then in 2015’s edition the number was almost doubled to about 500 participants, and last year there were 1,700 attendees. Over the past years, the conference was able to achieve great success toward raising awareness about the importance of the CSR concept, including eliminating illiteracy, offering training, and job opportunities, among other issues. Participation in the conference is free of charge for companies and interested youth as we receive the needed support from our international partners which mainly are the ILO, the International Organization for Migration, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF).
We aim to increase the businesspersons’ awareness of CSR as effective activities toward development. CSR does not only provide financial assistance to people, but also help employees to be well trained.
We invited all the African ambassadors as well as the International Organisation of Employers in Geneva, Switzerland, to participate in our conference. The regional and international participation will be obvious during the conference sessions. The inaugural session will be quite diversified. We believe that cooperation between non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the government, and companies is required to enhance knowledge about the importance of CSR. Companies can implement several CSR activities including fighting corruption, stopping environmental pollution during company operations, and training employees. We are happy to discuss our CSR experience with African countries to exchange experiences.
What about your future programmes?
We began with PepsiCo and Alex Bank to build the competency of the youth in order to qualify them for the labour market through their appointment as distributors in villages across Egypt. Our partners will provide the youth with the needed technical training, facilities, and grants in order to be able to manage their businesses.
We agreed with several training organisations to guarantee the youths’ positive response regarding the training sessions. We pay great attention toward Upper Egypt. We signed a MoU with the UNFP to support 5,000 young men on an annual basis through offering them the necessary training to qualify them for the labour market. Additionally, we also started a project with Helwan University on labour market skills and digital manufacturing, in partnership with a FEI member. Furthermore, we will train 400 students and trainers on digital manufacturing, which will revolutionise businesses.
How do you assess the government’s efforts in supporting CSR activities?
The ministry of investment and international cooperation is taking positive steps toward supporting CSR projects. The FEI is quite convinced about the importance of CSR, therefore it established a CSR unit, with the support of the ILO, and then it became self-operational.
Our unit is diversifying its partnerships. We have several partners such as Alex Bank, the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development, the ILO, the UNFP, and others, which reflects the confidence in our projects and initiatives.
Would you please elaborate about your cooperation with the UNFP and Helwan University?
We have a new project with the UNFP to train youth, in cooperation with the youth ministry, as we will train about 1,000 young men this year. Helwan University has very good facilities, but its nearby area lacks various necessities, so we will be coordinating the matter so that we have a positive impact on the disadvantaged areas through CSR projects.
Additionally, we have a project with International Organisation of Migration to limit the numbers of migrants from rural areas into major cities through offering them decent training by partnering with companies.
Do you think that further development of the business climate will help support CSR projects?
Yes, we need the general business climate to support companies and all the stakeholders to increase their CSR activities, as companies are not the only pillar of CSR projects. The government needs to support companies in order for them to perform their roles.
What are your other projects in Upper Egypt?
We will also work in four villages in Sohag, in cooperation with a number of associations, to implement several diversified projects including sanitation, children’s welfare, and eliminating illiteracy.