Author Archives: Fuad Bin Omar

Nobel Peace Prize: Promoting businessworthy action

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– By giving the peace prize to a quartet including Ms. Ouided Bouchamaoui´s organisation, the committee has emphasised the importance of establishing trustworthy relationships between employer associations, labor unions and the civilian society to create stability, peace and development. Ms. Ouided Bouchamaoui, a business woman and the first female president of the Tunisian employer association, has been a central force in the development of her homeland after the arab spring, says Per L. Saxegaard, Chairman of Business for Peace.

Ouided Bouchamaoui is representing the Tunisian employeer association in the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo today.

A role model for business leaders

Ouided Bouchamaoui_For her admirable ability to make business a strong force in developing the society, Ouided Bouchamaoui was named a Business for Peace Honouree in 2014.

In 2014 the Business for Peace Award was stated that “Ms. Bouchamaoui is a stellar example of businessworthy leadership, of dedicating one’s business energy to creating economic value that also creates value for society, through responsible and ethical work. While Tunisia’s challenges remain, it is from individuals such as Ms. Bouchamaoui a nation can draw hope for a better future.”

Ms. Ouided Bouchamaoui of Tunisia leads the Hedi Bouchamaoui Group, a family owned business spanning more than a hundred years. In January 2013, Ouided Bouchamaoui was elected the first woman President of the Tunisian Confederacy of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, in recognition of the responsible stewardship demonstrated in the family business.

Within weeks of her election, she initiated a strategic move to collaborate with the Tunisian General Labor Union, through signing a Social Contract. The agreement aimed to provide decent work conditions at all levels, it expanded employment opportunities, and structured wage policies – as well as helping improve competition between enterprises.

She then initiated a national dialogue on the economy, bringing together the Tunisian President, Prime Minister, President of the National Assembly and major participants from private and public enterprises. Their task was to set up a roadmap and a plan of action to slow down the crisis and help the economy.

Ms. Ouided Bouchamaoui is a role model for other business leaders with her engagement for the development of society. The positive role in societal development is often underestimated. Establishing jobs and sustainable businesses is one of the most important requirements for lasting peace, says Per L Saxegaard.

Honouree Profile: Zahi Khouri

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Small bottles, big dreams
Here’s a question – Where should you go if you want to see the biggest Coke bottle in the world? The Coca Cola Company’s headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia? Not quite. In fact, the sculpture is found more than 10.350 kilometers away, on the roof of the soft drink giant’s Ramallah headquarters. Impressive though it might be, to see the bottle merely as a symbol of Coca Cola’s international reach would be a mistake. Rather, the bottle should be seen as a super-sized testimony to the success of Mr. Zahi Khouri, the founder of the Palestinian National Beverage Company (NBC).

Having fled Palestine with his family in 1948, Mr. Khouri returned to his native country as a successful businessman in 1991, eager to create jobs and attract investments. Hoping to kickstart a new Palestinian economy, Mr. Khouri co-founded the Palestinian Development and Investment Company (PADICO) shortly after the signing of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. In 1998, in close co-operation with the Coca Cola Company, Mr.Khouri founded the NBC, becoming the multinational’s official franchise in Gaza and the West Bank.

Since its inception, the NBC has operated with a strong sense of corporate social responsibility. Having grown steadily since 1998, the company now operates four bottling facilities in the Palestinian territories, creating thousands of jobs. While boosting the local economy, numerous charities have also been created as extensions of NBC’s operation. As a staunch believer in the importance of human capital, Mr. Khouri set out early to work with Palestinians under 24, a demographic strata that in 2009 made up 55.4 % of the population. Funding a wide array of programs, Mr. Khouri today supports local sports teams, library-programs in public hospitals, waste water treatment plants, tech start-up funds, scholarship schemes for female students, and numerous other charities.

As an activist for the Palestinian cause on the international arena, Mr. Khouri remains hard at work creating growth in the local economy, all while leading by example when it comes to stressing the importance of intelligent investment in the most important asset of any community – its human capital.

In recognition of remarkable philanthropic work and achievements in sustainable business, Mr. Zahi Khouri is awarded the 2015 Business for Peace award.

Thank you for being a part of 2015 Oslo Business for Peace Summit!

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Dear participants, partners, supporters and audience of the 2015 Oslo Business for Peace Summit. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your contribution to a truly inspirational and uplifting experience in the name of beeing Businessworthy.

Our deepest gratitude and admiration goes out to the Oslo Business for Peace 2015 Honourees. Please check back to our webpage soon, as we will shorty update the page with pictures, videos and reports from the summit and Award Ceremony.

In the meantime, to learn more about the 2015 Honourees, and the Oslo Business for Peace Foundation, please follow us at @businessworthy and facebook.com/businessworthy.

If you want to share your Oslo Business for Peace Summit experience, or give any feedback to the organizers and the Foundation, do not hesitate to get in contact with us at annejorun@businessforpeace.org – we welcome any feedback.

Sincerely – The Business for Peace Foundation

2015 Oslo Business for Peace Honourees

Meet the Winners: Merrill Joseph Fernando

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Fernando_When Merrill Joseph Fernando was born in 1930, he was a colonial subject of the British Empire. His homeland, the island of Ceylon, produced rubber, cinnamon, and Ceylon tea. Tea production was under the control of the British who had established large plantations and controlled the process, from planting to packaging to store shelves.

Although Fernando had considered law school, he began work in the tea trade. He was among the first group of Ceylonese to go to London to study tea tasting, a profession then dominated by British expatriates. In London, he began to realize that the finished product was more financially beneficial to the European corporations than the workers in the now-independent Ceylon who were handpicking and producing tea in the traditional manner.

In 1962, Fernando established his own bulk-tea export business, Merrill J. Fernando & Company, becoming the first exporter to ship Ceylon tea to the former Soviet Union, and establishing a strong relationship with buyers in Australia. The 1960s were a period of consolidation and commodification as large multinational companies forced many family-owned businesses to sell or go bankrupt. Discounting and cheaper prices had turned Ceylon tea into a commodity.

“The mixing of tea (blending) worried me at the time,” Fernando told the Sri Lanka Sunday Times in 2013. ”Ceylon Tea at the time had 30-40 percent of non-Ceylon origin tea … it occurred to me that eventually foreign packers would drop Ceylon Tea altogether or use just a little bit.”

In 1971, Fernando bought his first tea plantation and the following year, Ceylon was officially renamed Sri Lanka. By 1988, he was finally ready to produce his own, single-blend tea. He was determined to change the exploitation of his country’s crop by the multi-nationals and began offering, as the Dilmah website describes, “producer-owned, garden-fresh, unblended, and ethically produced single origin tea.”

Fernando named his tea Dilmah, after his two sons. The success of Dilmah in the Soviet Union, Australia, and New Zealand meant that there was a market for specialty teas whose production was based on very high quality and a commitment to ethical production.

His mother often told him, he said, that if he were successful, it was his obligation to share those benefits with his workers and the less privileged in his community. At the heart of Dilmah, Fernando says, is the commitment to making business a matter of human service.

A tenth of the profits made by the Dilmah tea companies are directed towards community and social uplift programs carried out by the MJF Charitable Foundation. Among its many activities, the Foundation has awarded scholarships to students from the tea plantations, provided assistance to families and war widows in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, and provided differently abled children with education, therapy, and training. Foundation resources are now shared and used for environmental conservation efforts carried out by Dilmah Conservation.

In 2010, Fernando, the Dilmah family, and its partners issued a declaration which states:“We have pioneered a comprehensive commitment to minimizing our impact on the planet, fostering respect for the environment and ensuring its protection by encouraging a harmonious coexistence of man and nature. We believe that conservation is ultimately about people and the future of the human race, that efforts in conservation have associated human well-being and poverty reduction outcomes. These core values allow us to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations of sustainability.”

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