Zain publishes annual sustainability report

Zain involves in social, charitable activities – ‘Innovate for a Sustainable Future’

Zain Vice-Chairman & Group CEO Bader Al-Kharafi

KUWAIT: Zain Group, the leading mobile telecom innovator with a presence in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa, announces the publication of its sixth annual sustainability report, entitled ‘Innovate for a Sustainable Future’. The release of this latest report, which is aligned with the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP) and adheres to the G4 reporting guidelines set by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), reinforces Zain Group’s position as one of the most consistently transparent mobile operators in the MENA region given the depth of information it openly shares.

Zain’s 2016 report details the company’s sustainability agenda, highlighting key partnerships and commitments with global entities such as the United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees (UNHCR), The Whitaker Peace Development Initiative, Child Helpline International (CHI), REFUNITE and Facebook. Additionally, the document communicates Zain’s triple bottom line approach (social, environmental and economic) to all stakeholders.

Available exclusively online through an interactive interface that is user-friendly, and which also minimizes the company’s environmental impact, this year’s publication has a key new development. The report includes a section demonstrating the company’s ongoing commitment to align its policies and activities with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), highlighting launched and established initiatives across all operating companies that address the goals.

Pioneering role
Commenting on the release of the report, Zain Vice-Chairman and Group CEO, Bader Al-Kharafi said, “Zain Group is renowned for being a pioneer across many of its different activities and this has also become true of our sustainability report. I urge as many corporate entities and people as possible to review this latest report and perhaps gain some inspiration for themselves of the types of activities that can be entered into to help uplift society.”

The Vice-Chairman and Group CEO continued, “We firmly believe that corporate entities should play a pivotal role by actively supporting socio-economic development and promoting the innovative potential of the region, especially in regards to the youth. It is clear to us that the more we do in this area, the more that remains to be done, and we are up to the challenge of further implementing initiatives that are impacting all our stakeholders for a greater good.”

Commitment to sustainability
Al-Kharafi concluded, “I would like to acknowledge all the Zain people across the Group and operations who are working so diligently to achieve our sustainability goals. It is not by accident that we have become one of the most recognizable and appreciated brands in the region, and we shall continue earning this accolade through our transparency and the initiatives we drive.”

Zain’s commitment to sustainability is reflected in the long list of activities and initiatives the company runs in any given year, many of which are highlighted within the latest report. All operating companies continue to drive the sustainability agenda through activities such as the introduction of Zain Cash in Iraq and re-launch in Jordan, of which a case study is provided in the Report, offering a view on how the commercial service provides a secure and convenient means to conduct financial transactions.

With approximately 90% of the population unbanked in Iraq and a high percentage in Jordan as well, Zain Cash has a significant positive impact on the society as it helps addresses economic disparity. The company has also been involved in highly visible corporate sustainability pursuits such as Zain Jordan’s collaboration with the UNHCR and Facebook to provide free hi-speed Wi-Fi connectivity for refugees and underserved communities in pre-selected centers across the Kingdom, with the project set to be in place for five years.

Supporting the underprivileged
Other examples highlighted, include flagship operator – Zain Kuwait donating a sizeable amount in 2016 to support the education of underprivileged children in Kuwait as part of its ongoing humanitarian strategic partnership with the Kuwait Red Crescent Society. This partnership aims to create and develop inclusivity when it comes to providing access to education for marginalized segments in Kuwait. Focusing on developing its 7,000-talented workforce, Zain provided more than 115,000 hours of training to its employees across operations with an average of 20 hours of training per employee during 2016.
Zain Group has always been known as a strong contributor to employment across its markets, though this year’s report identifies the extent to which its operations have a knock-on effect in their respective countries of operation creating a significant amount of jobs through its value chain by providing more business to local suppliers. During 2016, Zain also continued to focus on further developing the entrepreneurial and youth-focused ecosystem through initiatives such as its participation in the MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) Startup Competition, a regional startup competition that offers participants seed money, training, media exposure, and networking opportunities.

‘Innovate for Refugees’
A record 6,000 teams (representing over 12,000 individuals) submitted to the competition. Additionally, Zain partnered the MITEF ‘Innovate for Refugees’ competition that invited entrepreneurs and refugees from around the world to come up with tech-driven, innovative solutions to help address the global refugee crisis. The initiative attracted over 1,600 applications from across the globe.

Zain Iraq hosted a startup weekend in Baghdad, Iraq, which provided a workshop in which students and other young Iraqis were brought together to pitch their entrepreneurial ideas to assembled judges and members of the audience. While, in Sudan, Zain sponsored the country’s first business accelerator program to promote a more startup friendly and innovative ecosystem in the country.

Addressing a major deficit of ‘skills mismatch’ in the region, Zain continued in its efforts to narrow the gap with Zain Bahrain holding a ‘Youth City ICT Jobs’ workshop to educate youth about job potential in the ICT sector that was attended by 80 high school students. Similarly, based on a Silicon Valley curriculum, Zain Jordan undertook ‘ReBoot Kamp’, a 16-week program designed to produce high quality software engineers that saw 17 students graduated from this course in 2016, with two students being refugees and all participants attaining quality jobs thereafter.

‘Girls in Tech’
Established in 2014Jordan’sZain Innovation Campus (ZINC) is again highlighted in the report. A space dedicated to cultivating innovative ideas and startups, during 2016 ZINC hosted various events that aimed to address the skill mismatch that our region faces. One key initiative was centered around cyber security and women, with ZINC hosting the ‘Girls in Tech’- Jordan Chapter for the first Tech Talk that covered cyber security, privacy, and what precautions women need to take when assaulted online. Overall, ZINC attracted 15,791 young aspiring attendees over the year.

Jennifer Suleiman, Zain Group’s Head of Corporate Sustainability concluded, “Our latest report highlights that we continue to do the things that actually matter for our stakeholders and for the environment as we build strong links in the communities in which we operate. It is highly satisfying to see the mix between our more mature sustainability activities and the new initiatives, which continue to push the boundaries of what organizations such as ours can achieve in this area.
We pledge to continue learning and improving, and sharing our experiences with the view to our successes being identified and replicated by other corporate entities across the region.” Zain’s sustainability report, ‘Innovate for a Sustainable Future’is published exclusively online and can be viewed on www.zain.com/social-responsibility/sustainability-reports/.

This article was published on 23/08/2017