Author Archives: Rick Manlove

About Rick Manlove

Dr Rick Manlove has 30 years of experience in crop science and animal health, managing global product portfolios, international teams and business units. He specialised in building sustainable businesses and has experience in building strategies to support sustainable food production. Rick has a unique combination of biological training and commercial experience in agriculture and the food chain and is conducting postgraduate work in the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership.

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CSR in MENA and GCC Top Opportunities

csr in mena

csr in mena – opportunities: The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region is home to nearly 500 million people and with nearly $5 trillion in GDP represents 7% of the global economy

EMG’s research and work in MENA confirms that, in line with global trends, companies in the region are increasingly focussing on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).  For some companies CSR is an extension of their philanthropic activity; for others it can be a source of value creation; and for some it becomes a genuine strategic driver with potential to transform the business. In the first of a series of short articles EMG’s Dr Richard Manlove looks at the critical issue of youth employment as a CSR opportunity.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region is home to nearly 500 million people and with nearly $5 trillion in GDP represents 7% of the global economy. Turkey, Iran and Egypt each have 70-80 million people whilst at the opposite end of the spectrum populations in the smaller oil-rich gulf-states vary from 1 to 5 million. The region includes some of the richest and poorest states in the world. At $734bn the economy ofSaudi Arabia is more than 20 times larger than that of Yemen, two countries with similar sized populations (c.25m).

Drs Daan Elffers, EMG CEO was the chairman of CSR Summit in Jeddah, here with VP of Saudia Airlines

Drs Daan Elffers, EMG CEO was the chairman of CSR Summit in Jeddah, here with VP of Saudia Airlines

The Middle East is experiencing an unprecedented “youth bulge” as the Brookings Institute reports. With over 30 per-cent of its population between the ages of 15 and 29, representing over 100 million youth, this is the highest proportion of youth to adults in the region’s history.


Ensuring productive employment for this youth generation is critical in terms of both economic development and social stability. Ironically many of the workers employed in richer MENA countries today are expatriate / migrant workers from outside the region.Private companies have a direct role to play as employers but can also contribute more broadly through CSR activities.

Drs Zeljka Davis, EMG partner with leadership of Alnahda - women's society dedicated to empowering women, KSA

Drs Zeljka Davis, EMG partner with leadership of Alnahda – women’s society dedicated to empowering women, KSA

What to do? Companies can help by launching and supporting initiatives which:

a)      create jobs for local young people

b)      build bridges between education and employment

c)       help match people to jobs through information sharing, vocational training etc.

d)      foster entrepreneurship

Working in partnership with local government bodies and / or NGOs can be often the best way forward

Dr Richard Manlove, EMG at CSR Dubai

Dr Richard Manlove, EMG at CSR Dubai

What are the benefits?

In addition to the reputational benefits of taking a proactive approach to social issues the companyhelps create a pool of employees qualified to meet its future needs. It may gain preferential access to good calibre employees and engender long term loyalty from those it supports during education or early employment.

CSR in MENA – How can EMG help?

EMG’s experienced consultants can help companies develop and implement CSR in several ways including:

  • Getting started
  • Strategy development and implementation
  • Research and benchmarking studies
  • Training and education
  • Internal and external communications
  • Third party liaison and partnering

Islamic Reporting Initiative

A context specific mechanism that can support companies and organisations alike, is the Islamic Reporting Initiative (IRI). The IRI is not-for-profit organization and was created to promote the use of triple bottom line reporting as a mechanism for business development and growth, in a context that is aligned with Islamic principles, believes, and values, to responsibly advance economic, social, and environmental opportunity in the Islamic world. IRI’s reporting framework provides comprehensive metrics and methods for effectively measuring and reporting relevant aspects of the triple bottom line, such as:

  • Islamic Social Responsibility Code of Conduct
  • Social investment
  • Youth engagement
  • Nationalization of the workforce (within global multicultural framework)
  • Promotion of the knowledge based economy
  • Development of STEM skills and knowledge transfer
  • Creation of long-term business values
  • Organizational philanthropy
  • Environmentally sustainable measures
  • Economical contribution (e.g. sustainable employment)

The initiative was launched by international sustainability consultancy EMG, after more than a decade of working with some of the world’s leading businesses, governments and NPOs – many of which are in the Islamic world.  Please visit for more information.

Article: CSR in MENA

CSR Middle East

CSR Middle East: CSR Dubai 2014 took place from 18-21 May 2014 at the Address Hotel, Dubai Marina, UAE.


CSR Middle East, EMG founder Chairs the CSR Dubai Summit 2014

Following the opening by Conference Chairman Drs Daan Elffers, Founder and CEO of EMG, whose focus was on creating shared value for society, the environment and the corporate sector; the first session touched on the youth demographic. Christian Grage, VP, Arabian Peninsula, for Hilton Worldwide, highlighted that matching 70 million young unemployed people with the 75 million jobs which the hospitality sector will need to fill in coming years is a must, not just a ‘nice to do’. He gave examples of events, training schemes and team awards to encourage young people to develop the skills need by organizations like Hilton.

A local perspective was brought by Annelies Hodge of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce which assists companies in UAE and the broader region with CSR strategy and frameworks. She emphasized how CSR is a great opportunity to engage and motivate employees, and how the Chamber has led by example with its internal programme to dramatically reduce paper consumption.

Unilever’s Arijit Ghose, Managing Director for the Gulf, showed how a leading company can go beyond philanthropic activities and make CSR a core strategy, driving product development and consumer behaviour for increased sustainability. Furthermore this approach has driven company growth in revenues and profit, innovation and employee retention.

A further example of a global corporation making a difference was the Nestlé Healthy Kids initiative, presented by Karine Atoniades, which promotes nutrition awareness and healthier lifestyles for children.


CSR-Dubai-EMG-Consutant-Dr. Richard Manlove moderating

The panel discussion which followed, moderated by Dr Fabiana Di Lorenzo of EMG, provided clear evidence for the value of partnerships and the role of local government and NGOs in social initiatives, in this case to address the serious and growing issue of obesity in MENA.

Genny Ghanimeh, Founder and CEO of Pi Slice, gave an excellent example of how a single event can transform a life and propelled her from MBA student to social entrepreneur, connecting investors to micro-finance providers in the MENA region, ultimately enabling funds to reach those on low incomes.

Waleed Khaled Al Kashti from Zain (Kuwait) presented the comprehensive range of CSR programmes which it is possible for a committed larger corporate organisation to undertake.

The International Medical Centre in Jeddah, KSA, is an inspiring example of an organisation based on a combination of Islamic and CSR principles from the outset, as CSR director Noor Serafi eloquently communicated. The hospital is a centre of excellence both medically and in terms of CSR, designed with sustainability, community and a holistic healing experience for the patient at its heart. Key to its success is the top-down leadership commitment combined with a bottom-up approach to shared progress.


Audience at CSR Dubai 2014

Returning to the subject of youth engagement and development in the afternoon’s first panel discussion, moderated by Dr Richard Manlove of EMG, summit attendees heard about two social entrepreneurs from Lebanon and Egypt who are supported through the Arab World Social Innovators Programme, a partnership initiative between global NGO Synergos and leading consumer corporate PepsiCo. This arrangement enables the entrepreneurs to maintain independence in their approach, receiving direct input from Synergos, whilst fulfilling PepsiCo’s purpose of addressing social and environmental issues in the region.

Cascading CSR strategy was the subject of the final panel on day 1, moderated by Bart Burghgraef, Associate Partner for EMG Qatar. Zahra Hamirani left the world of global finance to set up a small, sustainable children’s nursery business in Dubai and related how a sense of purpose can truly engage staff and private partners to give generously of their time and resources to achieve remarkable things, including building the world’s longest sustainable fence from recycled bottles!

By contrast Rania Tayeh Pahl of Dubal exemplified engagement and purpose in a large industrial company.

CSR Middle East: Day 2, Tuesday May 20th

The first session of day two linked the passion of individuals, stakeholder engagement and good planning and implementation as a formula for success in corporate CSR.

The first of these was exemplified by Dr Sven Rohte, Chief Commercial Officer for Daman, whose passion to get people involved in sport for preventive health has resulted amongst other things in a growing band of regular runners at the Dubai Marina circuit.

Manar Al Muraikhi presented examples of TV content and competitions which leverage the current generation’s attachment to social media, and delighted the audience with video clips of the highly successful Alrabaa characters which Ooredoo has created to engage youngsters.

CSR-Saudi-Arabia-Daan-Elffers and HRH Princess Banderi, CSR Middle East

CSR-Saudi-Arabia-Daan-Elffers and HRH Princess Banderi, CSR Middle East


Then Herluf Nis Thomsen gave an object lesson in a well-planned and implemented campaign to tackle diabetes in the region, an initiative in which Novo Nordisk has partnered with Maersk Oil Qatar and local health organisations. A three-year timetable with clear objectives, KPIs and an appreciation of critical success factors have underpinned the success.

A highlight of day two was the panel discussion moderated by conference chairman Drs Daan Elffers in which HRH Princess Banderi Al Faisal of Saudi Arabia represented the King Khalid Foundation and President & CEO Bill Reese the International Youth Foundation.

From left: Chairman Drs Daan Elffers, founder and CEO of EMG CSR, HRH Princess Banderi Al Faisal of Saudi Arabia, King Khalid Foundation and President & CEO Bill Reese the International Youth Foundation. CSR Middle East 2014

From left: Chairman Drs Daan Elffers, founder and CEO of EMG CSR, HRH Princess Banderi Al Faisal of Saudi Arabia, King Khalid Foundation and President & CEO Bill Reese the International Youth Foundation. CSR Middle East 2014

Her Royal Highness referred to the challenges of establishing and managing successful partnerships, and Bill Reese talked with great authority on the critical importance of engaging youth not only in the MENA region but around the world. Together their organisations have created the ‘Passport for Success’  programme, a life-skills curriculum building on partnerships with the private sector to give young people the relevant skills and confidence they need to enter the workforce.

Drs-Zeljka-Davis- presenting on Reputation & CSR

Drs Zeljka Davis-Vorih, Managing Partner with EMG, presenting on Reputation & CSR

Drs Zeljka Davis-Vorih, Managing Partner with EMG, shared her knowledge and experience of strategic positioning and organizational reputation management. She emphasized the need for a focused strategic approach to CSR, and laid out clear steps on how to embed CSR effectively in the organization.

Finally the presentations to three young social entrepreneur teams, and the judging of their entries in a competition sponsored by the Al Ahli Group, was a great climax to the morning.

Al Ahli’s CSR director, Lina Hourani, was the Master of Ceremonies and the audience was captivated and moved by the teams and what they were doing:

1.  ‘She Dares’ is a coaching programme set up by a team of three young female students in Dubai, using local professional life-coaches to support women in the development of leadership skills.

2.  The ‘Get off the Couch’ team has partnered with Gold’s Gym, Dr Nutrition and Fatafeet TV to provide events, educational materials and seminars to promote physical activity, healthy nutrition and lifestyles for children.

3.  ‘Ray of Hope’, the competition winner, comprises a team of two young women who were concerned by the contrast between the opulence of modern Dubai and the conditions in the accommodation camps of the labourers who provide the workforce required for the vast array of construction projects. Taking a direct approach, they visited one of the camps and asked groups of workers about what they most needed. They then sourced and donated toiletries and blankets.

All three initiatives were truly worthy and the competitors will benefit from input by conference participants who were inspired and responded warmly to them.

Professor Dima Jimali updated the conference on trends in CSR in the MENA region based on her team’s research at the American University of Beirut (AUB). She contrasted areas where regional CSR is converging with the global picture, such as the increase in companies which have signed up to the UN Global Compact, with other areas where it diverges due to cultural specifics such as an emphasis on philanthropy.

An interesting contribution was from AUB student Farah Matar, President of Net Impact at the university. Net Impact is a global leadership network in business schools dedicated to driving change for more sustainable business. Farah described the Reverse Vending Machine on AUB’s campus which gives points in return for recycled items.

Article CSR Middle East CSR Dubai

EMG chairs CSR Qatar

Daan Elffers presenting at Jeddah, CSR Saudi Arabia

Drs Daan Elffers, founder EMG CSR

EMG CEO has chaired Qatar CSR 2013 and was also presenting at a similar conference in Jeddah, CSR Saudi Arabia 2013. Daan will also be the Chairman for the flagship sustainability summit CSR Dubai 2014, now in its 11th year.

Participants at Qatar CSR Conference 2013, chaired by EMG, tackled one of the big questions for organisations thinking about CSR – namely how to put a value on it.

During presentations and panel discussions with contributors from Middle Eastern businesses, non-profits and academia a number of key points emerged:

  • Some CSR benefits have a clear direct financial value which can be captured, even if it is hard to measure.

Zeina Abou Chaaban is founder of Palestyle, a small high-end fashion business based in the UAE. Her business empowers local women refugees by providing skilled jobs such as embroidery using traditional Arabic designs. Zeina explained that this approach can be used to differentiate the company’s brand and appeal to customers provided it is (a)genuine (b)additional to good quality, not a substitute for it and (c)communicated appropriately.

  • To maximise value CSR activity must be aligned with business strategy and organisations must take a longer term view
Dr Richard Manlove EMG CSR moderator at CSR Qatar

Dr Richard Manlove (center) EMG CSR moderator at CSR Qatar

This point was well made by Noor Sarafi of the International Medical Centre, a private hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She emphasised the importance of taking a structured approach to CSR. Putting a price on CSR is difficult but can be achieved with the right data plus experience and expertise. The importance of tracking and measurement was further reinforced by Professor Dima Jamali from the American University of Beirut based on her work in the Olayan business school.

  • Intangible value can be the most important sort.

Amar Benaissa’s organisation, INJAZ, works with the business community to link it to education and work with children in classrooms. He sees the main value for the companies involved as the motivation and empowerment of employees.

Drs Z Davis EMG CSR  Presenting  Reputation and CSR

Drs Z Davis EMG CSR Presenting on “Reputation and CSR” at CSR Qatar

In Qatar itself major infrastructure projects are only possible thanks to a large migrant workforce, with relatively high levels of turnover. The way companies treat their workforce is a key driver of retention and motivation. Construction company QDVC presented details of its programme to ensure good conditions in accommodation camps, exceeding legal requirements and welcoming external inspections.

A range of related CSR issues were addressed by the conference, which was chaired by EMG founder Drs Daan Elffers with panel discussions moderated by EMG consultants Drs Zeljka Davis and Dr Richard Manlove:

  • The leadership roles of companies, NGO’s, government and individuals.
  • Innovation
  • Untapped opportunities
  • The Cradle to Cradle approach.
Z Davis EMG CSR moderator at CSR Qatar

Drs Zeljka Davis (second from the right) EMG CSR moderator at CSR Qatar

What emerged from the conference was a picture of Qatar and the ME more generally as a region with huge potential to do good for its communities as well as to prosper economically. The geography and demographics of states such as Qatar, which have small native populations, abundant hydrocarbon resources and very limited fresh water and productive land means that businesses which operate there need external resources and expertise, training and education to realise that potential. With economic activity expanding exponentially it is vital that CSR and sustainability become embedded in strategic thinking and action. As the Qatar Business Council Vice President, his excellency Mohammed Ahmed T Al-Kawari, stated in the Keynote Opening Address, “CSR must be made a strategic concept in Qatar”.

CSR Qatar 2013

CSR Qatar 2013, H.E. Mohammed Ahmed T. Al – Kawari, Vice Chairman, Vice President Business Council, Qatar Chamber


Article: Qatar CSR Conference Spotlights the Value of CSR
EMG organizes various individual One on One and team courses in Qatar, click here to find out more about CSR training

Sustainable Food Production

sustainable food production

Although sustainable food production is in the category of large scale, complex and difficult global problems sometimes described as ‘wicked’, companies should see it as a source of opportunities and leverage it to drive innovation, argues Dr Richard Manlove of EMG CSR Consultancy and the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership.

Despite unacceptably high levels of malnutrition globally, the large majority of planet earth’s seven billion humans have had access to adequate, good quality, affordable food for many years thanks to Herculean developments in agriculture. But ‘past performance is no guarantee of future returns’ and the challenge facing governments, agriculture and the food industry is ominous.
An approximate doubling in demand for food by 2050 must be met with finite land, water and other resources and without exacerbating the already huge environmental impact of food production. Finding solutions to this large scale, complex and difficult challenge presents huge potential opportunities for innovative organisations.

Possible approaches fall into four broad categories:

1)    Reduce resource demand through qualitative and quantitative changes in diet (e.g. vegetarianism and veganism)

2)   Increase productivity through intensification and technology

3)   Reduce environmental impact of conventional agriculture by technological solutions and / or extensification

4)   Find innovative alternative food sources (e.g. mycoprotein, in-vitro meat, insects)

Some approaches, e.g. intensive vs. extensive farming, may be conflicting and in practice some combination of all approaches will be almost certainly be required.

Companies in agriculture and related life-sciences have a key role to play but are faced with dilemmas about the right way forward. Genetic improvement, genomics and inputs such as fertilisers, crop chemicals, animal medicines and growth promoters are often regarded negatively by consumers and sustainability professionals alike due to their potential to pollute or the perception that they are unnatural. But the fact remains that we need to produce more food using less land and water and fewer animals. Tools which increase productivity can do just that and reduce environmental impact per unit of food produced. What are needed are innovative approaches which develop and deploy productivity-enhancing technologies at scale with minimal negative environmental consequences. Bio-pesticides and precision use of inputs such as fertilizers are current examples.

So what innovative approaches for companies involved directly or indirectly in food production are suggested by a sustainability perspective on food production? Based on my work in the dairy sector here are some suggestions.

  • Look at current sustainability initiatives and emerging environmental regulations in your sector – what changes are coming and who is in the driving seat? If you are not already involved how can you contribute?
  • Look at the production-to-consumption chain end-to-end. Many, if not most, of the challenges involve several stages and inter-related factors from different disciplines. Build ‘solution-focussed’ alliances with other players in the chain to address specific opportunities.
  • Use holistic systems approaches to reveal new insights and potential solutions.
  • Identify ‘clean’ technologies which you are well placed to develop to replace or improve existing products and services.
  • Build radical long term scenario’s to disrupt your current patterns of thinking and generate new ideas.

The author will explore some of these ideas further in future articles.

Sustainable food production