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Dubai Economy Talks stress need for effective philanthropy and impact investments

posted on 23/03/2017: 2469 views

‘Dubai Economy Talks 3-2017,' the third in a dialogue series hosted by Dubai Economy, was held today with the focus on ‘Fostering Effective Philanthropy and Investment in the UAE and Beyond.' Participants in the dialogue emphasised the importance of blending social and financial value, highlighting existing and emerging models in impact investment and community development worldwide and ways to take venture philanthropy in the UAE to the next level.

The dialogue was held particularly in the context of the statement by Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum that "consolidating the culture of giving in the UAE is a shared responsibility; all individuals and institutions will play a vital role." A number of international experts working with prominent families worldwide known for their investment in philanthropy led the dialogue highlighting their experiences and identifying the strategic programmes necessary to achieve the goals of the ‘Year of Giving' initiative in the UAE.

Venture philanthropy is the provision of finance to organisations or individuals with the explicit expectation of a social, as well as financial, return. It essentially combines societal and business objectives into a sustainable, impact driven businesses. This kind of investment has become increasingly relevant in today's economic environment, as social challenges have mounted while public funds in many countries are under pressure.

"In the UAE and in Dubai in particular, impact investment is entrenched in our values and heritage. It is part and parcel of how we do business in line with our Islamic economy and finance principles that take a re-distributive approach to not only the poor but to the society at large. As such, the Islamic economic paradigm, by its design, seeks to narrow social distance and reduce inequalities," Sami Al Qamzi, Director-General of Dubai economy, said in his welcome remarks at Dubai Economy Talks 3-2017.

"We seek to draw on the new ways to invest and utilise philanthropic capital that have emerged around the globe bringing with them new approaches to charitable giving. One such approach is to apply venture capital and business principles, such as long-term investment and hands-on support, to the social economy driving innovative and scalable models of social change," Al Qamzi said adding that the task ahead is to draw on international experience and best practices to take venture philanthropy in the UAE to the next level of excellence.

"While many large private foundations, public sector pension funds and banks have been pioneers in this area, there is a growing movement among a more private group: families who see impact investing as a way to align their wealth with their family values. Globally, families represent a major growth opportunity; however, here in Dubai and the UAE, family-owned businesses have been engaging in impact investment throughout their lives," Al Qamzi stated.

Referring to the importance given to sustainability and innovation across development plans in the UAE, including the UAE Vision 2021, Dubai 2021 Plan, and the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, Al Qamzi said this, together with the new public-private partnership law, provided ample opportunities to build on global experience as well as local entities such as the Al Maktoum Foundation and Emirates Foundation, and foster venture philanthropy in the UAE and beyond.

Raed Safadi, Chief Economist in Dubai Economy, moderated the dialogue, which also included presentations on impact investment. Mr. Richard Nunneley, Chairman of the Floreat Investment Group spoke about the ‘Moral Compass of Giving,' sharing his own experience with one of the UK's largest families known for their philanthropic work since 1703.

Paul O'Dea, Senior Advisor to Private Offices at Floreat Group, spoke about ‘Multi-Generational Planning and Philanthropy' focusing on major GCC and global families and their approach to philanthropy. Tony Bury, philanthropist and entrepreneur, shared his experiences in a presentation titled "You must be the change you want to see in the world."


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