Philanthropy is a vital force in driving the knowledge economy, said panellists in a session titled “Good for Knowledge” on the first day of the Knowledge Summit 2018, taking place on December 5-6, 2018, at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
Bearing the theme “Youth and the Future of the Knowledge Economy”, the summit – an initiative of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF) – is being held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, and the directives of MBRF Chairman H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Emirati businessman Badr Jafar, CEO of Crescent Enterprises and founder of Pearl Initiative – a not-for-profit organisation promoting accountability, transparency and governance within the Gulf – highlighted, among other issues, what he believed were the most effective philanthropic organisations operating in the region.
“One example is Education for Employment, established and founded by Ron Bruder. What he realised was that if we don’t generate further opportunities for youth, we risk creating a lot of discontent. It’s a simple model – basically it gets companies to pay for vocational training. It has now trained over 150,000 youths in 8-9 years. The companies benefit because they have a pool of qualified talent, so it’s a model that feeds itself,” he said.
“We wanted to encourage people to give more, but we always faced mistrust,” noted Dr Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Chairman of the Board of University of Central Asia. “We created the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy to certify non-profit organisations. To date we have certified 1,000 such organisations. We have strict criteria for certification, including how many women they employ or include on their board, and their regulatory framework. When philanthropists see an organisation has been approved by the Centre, they are more confident to give more.”
Shiza Shahid, co-Founder of the Malala Fund, a charitable organisation working to break down the barriers preventing 130 million girls around the world from going to school, said: “I think the philanthropy’s role is to address the challenges that the market doesn’t; to take on the risks that the market won’t. Scientific research takes a long time to become market-ready. Philanthropy can foster scientific research that can enter the market and eventually become sustainable or profitable,” she said.
This year’s Knowledge Summit brings together more than 100 experts and decision makers from all around the world in over 45 discussion panels and workshops that aim to assist the transformation of Arab countries from knowledge consumers to knowledge producers.