In the heart of the Middle East, the UAE has long been renowned for its generous spirit. This tradition of giving has been woven into the very fabric of the nation, with a rich history of humanitarian endeavours that have touched countless lives. In addition, in recent years, we have witnessed a remarkable evolution in the UAE's approach to philanthropy, thanks to the visionary government's concerted efforts to channel this generosity into transformative Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
This strategic shift has reinforced the nation’s spirit of giving across the private sector, encouraging a powerful momentum of philanthropy within companies across the UAE which has helped to support and uplift various communities. Organisations, both public and private, have rallied behind this cause, making significant strides in their CSR endeavors. The recently released MENA CSR report for 2022, which ranks the UAE at the top for CSR activities is a testament to the nation’s leadership in promoting sustainable and socially conscious practices in the region.
At IFZA, our commitment to social responsibility is not merely an addendum to our business operations; it is lies at the very core of our ethics and values – it is a part of our DNA. Our CSR division, IFZA Cares, is dedicated to supporting communities, protecting the environment, and fostering a culture of ethical and sustainable business practices.
Throughout the years IFZA Cares has supported many meaningful causes ranging from animal shelters, hosting blood donation drives, complimentary health check-ups for employees, providing Ramadan meals to labour camps, and working towards achieving the target of planting 30,000 mangrove trees in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The IFZA Free Zone community has been actively involved in growing the first-ever IFZA mangrove forest in the UAE, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of 2030 and the UAE Net Zero 2050 goal.
Through the GROW Initiative, we have successfully planted more than 10,000 mangrove saplings at the Jubail Mangrove Park in Abu Dhabi. This effort is estimated to sequester 2.3 million kg of CO2 over the lifetime of the forest. We are also well on our way to planting 20,000 more mangrove trees at the Jebel Ali Wildlife Sanctuary in Dubai by the end of the year. Our ultimate vision is to create a network of forests in critical areas around the world.
In addition to planting mangrove trees, IFZA Cares also ensures we eliminate our electronic waste carefully. According to the UN around 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste is produced every year worldwide. Such a large quantity of tech gadgets being disposed of irresponsibly every year can lead to an increase in emissions and landfill waste.
IFZA is a thriving Free Zone company with more than 300 employees - with new people joining on a regular basis. This leads to a great deal of use of items such as laptops and mobile phones – which we can re-purpose once they become obsolete.
As a commitment to supporting the UAE government’s efforts towards reaching Sustainable Development Goal 4 - Quality Education and Goal 13 - Climate Action, we identified a school network in Dubai that would benefit from laptops and donated hundreds of formatted high-quality laptops to them.
The initiative ensured the laptops are upcycled and donated to solve a problem in the community instead of selling them for profit or disposing them as waste and polluting the environment.
Advancing employment opportunities
One of our most rewarding collaborations is with the Special Needs Future Development Center (SNF). SNF focuses on empowering young adults with special needs, offering personalised and professional support to students above the age of 14. The aim? To nurture self-sufficiency, both personally and professionally.
Our longstanding partnership with SNF has provided a unique opportunity for IFZA employees to volunteer at the center, immersing themselves in an environment where they help out and learn to appropriately manage the needs of these incredible students of determination. Additionally, we've rallied our staff around donating essential occupational therapy and educational resources, fostering a culture of giving among our employees.
Perhaps one of our proudest achievements has been the employment and mentorship of Joel Shaji, a graduate of SNF. Joel, a remarkable young individual on the autistic spectrum, joined our HR department last year. Since then, he has displayed exceptional potential and growth, acquiring invaluable skills and knowledge within a corporate environment.
Joel's presence has not only enriched our HR team but has also elevated the quality of our office culture. Through this experience, our employees have gained profound insights into connecting with people of unique needs, furthering our commitment to inclusivity and contributing to the UAE’s National Policy for Empowering People of Determination.
IFZA Cares is dedicated to seeking opportunities that benefit not only our organisation but also the community we serve. Looking ahead, we aspire to create a corporate environment that celebrates diversity in all its forms, providing employment opportunities for people of all abilities. By doing so, we hope to contribute to a more inclusive and vibrant society, where everyone has the chance to thrive.
In this era of evolving corporate consciousness, the UAE stands as a beacon of inspiration for nations and organisations worldwide. Together, we can continue to drive positive change, one meaningful initiative at a time.