Goumbook organized a panel discussion in partnership with the Dubai Cares Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai detailing how companies and employees can get involved in mutually beneficial educational projects for local communities in Africa.
On November 10th 2021, Goumbook presented the Corporate Action for Africa panel, under the umbrella of its Global Goals Program: Accelerating Sustainability, inviting leading UAE-based organizations that support Sustainable Development Goal 4 – Quality Education – on the continent. Focusing on creating long-term relationships and sustainable models that give back, the panelists underscored the importance of growing together and looking beyond short-term fixes to create a real impact.
Goumbook is a leading social enterprise that promotes sustainable living and green practices in the UAE and beyond. It helps companies adopt and align their operations and objectives to SDGs, by raising awareness, taking action, and advocating for progress.
Moderated by Samantha Kayruz, Strategy Leader at Goumbook, the panel featured Sarah E Brook, CEO, and Founder, The Sparkle Foundation; Assia Riccio, Founder, EVOLVIN’ WOMEN; and Alanna Turpin, Director, Sustainability and Culture, Omnicom Media Group (MENA). They set out to redefine understanding of education, poverty, corporate involvement, collaboration, and the benefits to all stakeholders involved, stressing the need to change the circle of sustainability.
Sarah E Brook – who recently met with Malawi’s First Lady Monica Chakwera at Expo 2020 to discuss implementing The Sparkle Foundation’s model across the whole of Malawi – said: “Creating sustainable communities is ultimately what we are trying to achieve because to replicate our model, we can’t just be relying on international donations.
“We look at Malawi first, its local resources and the business opportunities that are there to create a model from the country’s perspective. We start from birth all the way through to youth programmes, women’s groups, and adult literacy groups, to empower them with skills to get jobs and tools for parents to then enable their children to be educated, thereby alleviating previous cycles. This really works and it’s where charities usually fall flat. I think non-governmental organisations have gone wrong in the past by going in with a very strict agenda without actually looking at the needs of the communities. That’s why microfinance and impact investing are so essential.
“Larger NGOs come in and try to do it the easy way so they can tick a few boxes. They want to say we’ve changed X number of lives, but that doesn’t happen overnight. This is a long-term plan; the generations born now will probably be the ones to reap most from what we are doing, and we will have to continue the momentum. For us, that’s what sustainability looks like.”
Alanna Turpin said: “It’s about trying to educate people not just academically, but with life skills as well. We are in a circle that supports people to not only stand on their own two feet but to then be in a position where they can give back.”
Women are the catalysts of community development, Assia Riccio – who is making it her mission to empower women in Africa – said: “I don’t believe that I can go to Ghana and make a change, because I’m not from Africa. My job in the social space is to bring women to the UAE to show them something completely different so they can go back to become agents of change. It’s really about giving them the exposure to learn something different and to share their experiences. For me, that is community change and development.”
Dubai Cares is a global movement that brings equitable access to education and learning opportunities for children and youth to help them to take charge of their future. The two-storey Dubai Cares Pavilion, located in the Opportunity District, takes visitors on an experiential journey that is enlightening, positive, optimistic, engaging, imaginative, and action-orientated, showing visitors what a level playing field can look like through the transformative power of education.