A new alliance, concluded in March, between the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Emirates Foundation and Shell Foundation marks a significant change of approach for the former. Emirates Foundation, which has many years’ experience working with youth in the UAE in collaboration with the region’s public and private sectors, is starting to look towards the notion of venture philanthropy to achieve its aims and to support the social enterprise sector.
The new direction came from a recognition that change was needed to make ‘giving’ more effective and more strategic – for too long, philanthropic efforts have been overly focused on short-term grants with limited social impact. The answer seemed to lie in the emerging global trend to take a ‘business-based’ approach to philanthropy in order to increase impact.
The new alliance will build on Shell Foundation’s ten-year experience in deploying market-based solutions to tackle development challenges at scale in Africa, Asia and Latin America and on Emirates Foundation’s track record in catalysing public-private initiatives to inspire, empower and guide the youth of the UAE. (Pictured: a science fair at Al Ittihad Secondary Model School.) The partners will transfer best practices, develop staff exchange programmes and mentoring schemes, and explore a variety of joint initiatives to create opportunities for young people in the UAE and the broader region and help to promote strategic philanthropy in the Middle East. In particular, and in line with Shell Foundation’s model, Emirates Foundation plans to deliver impact through supporting social enterprises rather than traditional grant giving.
‘Shell Foundation’s approach whereby they invest in social enterprises has already proven successful in other parts of the world,’ says Clare Woodcraft, CEO of Emirates Foundation. ‘We are excited to work together to apply this kind of thinking to our work in the UAE and promote the same approach in the broader Middle East.’
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