The city of Dubai has been making rapid strides in the field of Sustainability. Be it, including Sustainability as one of the themes of the Expo 2020 or having designed a residential landscape, The Sustainable City, embracing the social, cultural and environmental pillars of Sustainability.
The vision of the leadership, reflected in the Dubai Plan 2021 holds Sustainability as the core. Thus it is not surprising to learn of the scores of individuals, who’ve made Dubai home, inspiring change by instituting Sustainable businesses. In an earlier article, we featured Baker & Spice, the restaurant in Dubai which introduced the concept of organic food in the region. In our latest interaction within the region, we connect with Marc Ruiviejo Ciera who is running Companies For Good, a Dubai based company helping arrange team-building and volunteering activities for corporates.
A born entrepreneur, Marc was introduced into the business world at a very early age by his grandfather. At 19, Marc set up his first business in hospitality while studying Economy & Business Administration in Barcelona. Marc ran the business for four years, then sold it and used the profits to pursue his Master’s in Business Ethics in Sydney. He has since worked in the corporate sector across a number of multinationals in CSR centric roles. Marc landed in Dubai in 2015 and has been working as a Senior Sustainability Executive at Chalhoub Group since then. He launched Companies for Good in May 2017.
OPR: What does sustainability mean to you?
Marc: Corporate Sustainability means thinking and acting differently. If businesses continue operating the same way there is no future for any of us. We’re consuming more natural resources at a pace much faster than the earth is able to produce, we’re polluting our air and water, we’re filling our oceans with plastic and other rubbish, we are making a few very rich while a large majority live in extreme poverty. Our current model is not sustainable. We need a radical change in our mindset and behaviour. This is what sustainability really means: change.”
Pictured: Companies For Good helped DHL deliver great things – for the planet and their business – with a team volunteering day at Dubai’s beautiful Ghantoot Marine Reserve
OPR: What was the reason for setting up Companies For Good in the UAE?
Marc: The UAE is a new, growing market full of opportunities. And CSR & Sustainability are on the rise here in the Middle East. The federal government declared 2107 ‘The Year of Giving’, and this 2018 is ‘The Year of Zayed’, which encourages everybody in the UAE to take action and promote “values of tolerance, environmentalism and leadership, as well as charity”. The UAE government also declared in June 2017 that CSR would be compulsory for all companies in the UAE and it then rectified saying that it would be voluntary. Either way, CSR is in the government agenda and businesses have taken good note.
In parallel to this official announcements, the government also launched a new portal to encourage companies to do more CSR, and has recently created the ‘CSR National Index’. All these elements are without doubt boosting the CSR sector in the UAE.
OPR: Tell us something about the projects currently run by Companies For Good? Are there some favourites amongst corporates?
Marc: We are working with some of the world’s greatest brands to help them do good. We have already helped organisations like DHL, Standard Chartered, Unilever, P&G, Henkel, AIG, Kellogg’s, Mondelez Int., Visionscape, etc.
Since we started half a year ago, we’ve organised activities for more than 500 volunteers.
Our most popular activities are outdoor events to protect the planet like Tree Planting or Beach Clean-Up, or activities that involve children: supporting children with special needs or making toys for refugees.
Pictured above is another event involving corporate volunteers work with local children to create handmade penguins for refugee children
OPR: You even do some workshops. What kind of workshops are these?
Marc: Yes, beyond the CSR activities, we also offer workshops, training and speaker sessions. We make partnerships with experts in different domains: Sustainability, Diversity & Inclusion, Social Impact, Happiness at Work, etc., and we bring those experts to companies to help them improve.
OPR: How has the reception been thus far and what challenges have you faced during this journey?
Marc: The journey so far has been extremely positive. The number of companies approaching us is growing every day. More and more businesses want to do good, but they often struggle to find the right solutions, and even more to organise CSR activities. They really appreciate the fact we make their lives easier, and we help them engage their people while making a positive impact.
As of challenges, I would say we do not have enough time to keep up with the requests and at the same time put into action all the new ideas we have in mind. Sometimes we’d like to split ourselves into three to be everywhere and doing even more good things!
Marc finally sums up, “Our ambition is to make the world a better place. There are many ways we can all contribute to this inspirational goal. For us, providing businesses with easy options to do good for the planet and the communities has been a good starting point.”
For more information, one can visit Companies For Good online at www.companiesforgood.ae to explore the various activities they offer. They can also be reached via mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.