Forbes: The Hayel Saeed Anam Group Sustainable Social Investment

Forbes: The Hayel Saeed Anam Group Sustainable Social Investment

The Hayel Saeed Anam Group - Yemen is working with the UN to provide much-needed aid to local communities in Yemen.

The climate crisis, disease, hunger, and poverty are some of the world’s most pressing issues and overcoming them will require ambition, acumen, and leadership-attributes familiar to the private sector. Yet, as all facets of the economy and society are being tested like never before by a global pandemic, the need for actors across all spheres, both public and private, to work together for the common good is perhaps greater than at any time in the past.

Given its propensity for delivering innovation, efficiency and scale, the private sector’s potential to play a leading role in solving these complex challenges has long been demonstrated. What is unclear is whether corporates will step forward when others have stepped back. And, whether improvements to the environment, society and governance are seen to hold a greater value to businesses than purely financial gains.

Take Yemen, a nation scarred by years of turmoil. Faced with countless operational challenges, many private sector players have reluctantly chosen to concede. Yet the Hayel Saeed Anam Group - Yemen-an 83-year-old family business established in Yemen in 1938-has demonstrated leadership, determination, and resilience to stand with the country through troubled times.

HSA employs 20,000 local people and produces and supplies essential goods and services to communities and families, both domestically and across the wider MENA region. Despite challenging conditions, the organization has embarked on an ongoing programme of unprecedented investment committing significant resources to rebuild health, education, transport, and communications infrastructure as it seeks to unleash a tide of Yemeni potential and direct it toward purpose-led growth, both for HSA and Yemen’s economy as a whole.

HSA’s ambition and support for the Yemeni people in their time of need originates from the organization’s commitment to family values-values that prize and reward compassion, collaboration, and a community-minded spirit.

It is this spirit which has seen the organization firmly embrace the aims of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), bringing its expertise to bear on the achievement of SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), and SDG 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure) at a local level. In this way, the company’s actions in recent years have not only demonstrated a steadfast commitment to the Yemeni people, but a recognition that the value of a business’ operations not only stem from financial performance, but its capacity to positively impact the societal and ecological environments in which they operate.

Embracing environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles is fundamental to business success. HSA was founded on ESG principles from the start and has always believed these to be the key to its continuity. Effective business strategies rely not only on clear leadership and experience, but also on an understanding of the communities served and an absolute commitment to societal progress.

HSA has been working in partnership with the United Nations, its agencies, and international NGOs to alleviate hardship through a wide range of emergency relief, food security and public health programmes in Yemen.

A hallmark example of HSA’s proclivity for international collaboration can be found in its response to the threat that COVID-19 poses. Through its charitable arm, the Hayel Saeed Anam Foundation, HSA’s leadership convened the WHO, Unilever, Tetra Pak, the Yemen Private Sector Cluster and the Federation of Yemen Chambers of Commerce and Industry to establish the International Initiative on COVID-19 in Yemen (IICY). The collaborative partnership has delivered financial and medical aid to support Yemen’s response to the deadly pandemic. To date, more than 43 tonnes of life-saving medical supplies have reached at-risk communities thanks to the IICY.

Long before the pandemic hit, HSA had drawn on both its commitment to international best practice and its links to globally-recognised institutions to battle the myriad challenges facing Yemen and continue operating in the face of adversity. Delivering food assistance to the most vulnerable households in 22 national governorates is just one example. In the past five years, HSA has distributed thousands of emergency food baskets, while supporting community development to instigate the production of sustainable food sourcing.

Its charitable initiatives have given it unparalleled insight into the Yemeni way of life, bringing it closer to its communities. As a family business, HSA, recognizes the importance of supporting people through both troubled and prosperous times alike, allowing it to deliver on its core company ethos, doing well by doing good, regardless of the circumstances.

An unwavering commitment to local communities, coupled with a willingness to collaborate on a global scale, sets HSA, apart from some of its peers and has helped the organization to unlock some of the vast pent-up potential in the Yemeni economy, in spite of countless operational challenges.

The insight and experience gained from the continuity of the company’s operations, in addition to the real-world value it continues to deliver to the Yemeni people, have provided HSA with a unique understanding of the market, which will undoubtedly serve it well as the country recovers in the years ahead.

A genuine desire to put sustainable socially conscious investment at the heart of corporate strategy will reap greater dividends than traditional corporate interests alone. If ever there were a time for global business practice to evolve, that time is surely now. 

  • Reportage