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CSR initiatives essential to Saudi youth empowerment

The importance of corporate social responsibility in the development of the Saudi community and empowerment of the youth is once again the highlight of the two-day CSR Saudi Arabia 2014 Summit that kicked off here in Jeddah on Monday.
A brief interview with some speakers in the summit showed a consensus on the necessity of sustained CSR activities to further spur growth.
Excerpts of the interviews follow:
To Amr Banaja, VP CSR, SEDCO: Did you connect and collaborate with relevant government bodies to enhance the program’s (Riyali Financial Literacy) capabilities?
Since its launch, the Riyali Financial Literacy Program has conducted introductory visits across a variety of local bodies including a number of universities where the program, its goals and plans were presented and explained. These visits resulted in strategic partnerships with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labour, Human Resources Development Fund, Capital Market Authority, Institute of Banking, Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, King Khalid Foundation, Al-Nahda Association, Majid Society for Community Development and Herfa Association. These partnerships have strengthened the program’s capacity, whereby with close cooperation with the various education departments, the program was implemented in local public schools. Additionally, as part its partnership with the Institute of Banking, public training courses for youth in Riyadh were offered for both male and female students.
Furthermore, as part of Riyali’s partnership with the Ministry of Labor, the program was included in the edX platform via the “Droob” program, which contains several e-based  educational courses, with a set goal of training youths’ skills and preparing them for the business market. Still in its pilot stage, the program is currently being offered for a duration of seven and a half weeks for 400 female students in Riyadh, Jeddah, Al-Ahsa and Tabuk, with near future plans for expansion to cover all segments. At the end of the training, each participant will receive certificates accredited by the Ministry of Labour.
Has governmental support for Riyali been instrumental in accelerating delivery of Riyali to your target audience?
Through cooperation with the Ministry of Labor, we seek to strengthen and develop the youths’ skills and enhance their knowledge which will allow them to face life’s responsibilities, through a number of courses, certified by the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation.
We here at the Riyali Financial Literacy Program appreciate the efforts of these bodies and strive to increase our partnerships in order to fully communicate SEDCO Holding Group’s message for spreading good in the community. These partnerships played a big role in achieving the Program’s goals, including reaching a significant number of our targeted group. 
Through close cooperation with the various Education Departments, the Riyali program was included as part of extra-curricular activities. This is in addition to the universities that played a significant role, and which provided students with the knowledge and skills and enabled them to deal with today’s requirements.
To Huda Hakki, director of Program and Projects Department, King Khaled Foundation:  As an institutional practitioner of CSR, do you offer advice and support for private sector companies regarding developing and implementing social responsibility initiatives, or do you work exclusively on your own programs?
King Khalid Foundation (KKF) works with the corporate sector in the following areas:
– Inviting them to dialogue forums with different target groups including youth- bridging the gap and providing linkages to micro-realities
Proposing new initiatives and engaging them in the design phase  
Involving them in the implementation by highlighting the outputs, opportunities and challenges.  As well, KKF focuses on informing the corporate sector about the impact of their contribution and the return on investment 
Building on lessons learnt by starting new initiatives or scaling up existing ones
So in other words, KKF engages the corporate sector far more than PR and media coverage and make sure that they own the initiative as much as KKF does. 
Does the King Khaled Foundation have programs and projects in place to promote the empowerment women in the Kingdom and their employment on equal opportunities in terms of salary, training and career advancement?
King Khalid Foundation is gender sensitive in all of their programs.  More than half of KKF grants are targeted towards women.  In all programs, we promote equal access to opportunities i.e. training, etc. 
However King Khalid Foundation focuses on the community as a whole, through our programs and grants, we focus on youth, children, women, disabled as well as institutions i.e. NPOs and social enterprises/ entrepreneurs and we play an important role in advocating for positive policy change that support the work of KKF and the socio-economic development in the country as a whole.

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