Zain Group, a leading innovator in mobile telecom in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa, announces its successful participation as a Strategic Partner Associate at this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) that took place on Jordan’s Dead Sea, 21-23 May.
This year’s WEF event was held with the full support and presence of Their Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, convening over 800 key leaders from government, business, and civil society to support a comprehensive and forward-looking vision for prosperity and peace across the MENA region.
Senior executives from Zain, including Group CEO, Scott Gegenheimer; Zain Jordan CEO, Ahmed Al Hanandeh; Zain Group Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer, Emre Gurkan; and Zain Group Head of Sustainability and Social Responsibility, Jennifer Suleiman represented the company and participated in group and panel discussions over the three-day event.
One of the most significant outputs of the three-day event was the WEF’s Regional Business Council for MENA call for action of a “New Vision for Arab Employment Initiative” that saw the commitment by nine founding partners, one of which was Zain Group, to scaling their corporate initiatives and creating wholly new initiatives aimed at closing the skills gap in the region.
The initiative involves investing in the continuous learning, training and job-readiness of the region’s youth, through collaborations between businesses and with education institutions, civil society, and governments, to help education systems keep up with the needs of the labor market. The call of action’s overall objective is to equip 100,000 people for job readiness in the MENA region by 2017.
The Human Capital Index 2015, released earlier this month by the WEF, shows that despite significant investment in education by many countries, the Middle East region is not adequately equipping young people with skills for the 21st century. The gap between education systems and labor markets creates shortfalls in human-capital development and deployment across the entire population. Overall, it is estimated that the region has optimized only 60 per cent of its human-capital potential, ahead of sub-Saharan Africa but behind all other regions.
Zain recognizes that building capacity is one the greatest challenges in the region and places a great effort in activities that promote and enhance the skills and talents of the population.
Commenting in a blog on the WEF’s official website, Zain Group CEO Scott Gegenheimer said, “As the leader of a prominent regional telecommunications company, I recognize the value of moving beyond a traditional understanding of business growth that is strictly profit-centric towards sustainable notions of growth that include acting as a catalyst for socio-economic development in the broader community.”
Gegenheimer continued, “If organizations are going to lead in today’s knowledge economy, they should take measures to contribute to and foster knowledge creation, embrace innovative technology and support entrepreneurial activities.”
Zain will continue to extend the scope of ongoing impactful activities and execute new activities as opportunities to do so arise. The company will also expand its support for the entrepreneurial and innovative capacities of its communities; utilizing smart capital to bolster individual projects that are deemed strategically valuable, and will develop multiple streams that provide strategic, financial and operational assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Based on measured impacts from 2014, Zain estimates that its participation in the Call for Action will impact 15,000 people through direct training, education or entrepreneurial assistance over a two-year span across Zain’s operating markets.
Based on clear objectives and metrics, the New Vision for Arab Employment Initiative will track progress on existing commitments and create strategic cooperation between sectors to make further relevant skilling and training interventions. The Initiative is one of two regional projects within the WEF’s broader Global Challenge Initiative on Employment, Skills and Human Capital, which produces analysis and fosters collaborative action to combat unemployment and skills gaps around the world.