Vice President, Middle East Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
March 10, 2021
When we think about American companies investing and doing business in Egypt, it is natural to imagine the jobs they are creating, the innovative technologies they are bringing to bear to solve challenges, and their world-class products and services being used daily. But beyond all these major contributions to the bilateral economic relationship, U.S. businesses in Egypt are also advancing social impact initiatives and connecting dots to impact lives and the communities they operate in throughout Egypt.
Connecting dots? Having identified a range of social, health and environmental issues affecting Egyptians, businesses are bringing a variety of resources to the table and working with partners to undertake social responsibility initiatives intended to make a real difference in peoples’ lives. In Egypt, American companies are committed to addressing challenges as they strive to adapt to the evolving needs of society. Making a difference by changing people’s lives and providing them with hope, opportunity, and a better way of life is a priority for U.S. businesses in Egypt.
Businesses Stepping Up to Fight COVID-19
And amidst the human, social and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, the efforts by American businesses in Egypt to partner and work with the government and charitable organizations to respond to the urgent need for medical supplies in the fight against COVID-19 are more important than ever.
In cooperation with the American Chamber of Commerce Foundation in Egypt and, in some cases, on their own accord, our members supported the private sector’s alliance that targeted the purchase of medical supplies, including ventilators and PPE, for 300 hospitals, 1,000 primary health care units, and 50 quarantine hospitals across the country. Others like Uber provided thousands of free rides for frontline healthcare workers to their jobs at hospitals in Cairo and Alexandria.
Highlighting Social Responsibility Work
While U.S. companies have answered the call during the pandemic in Egypt, their social responsibility work was robust prior to the crisis and it will continue for years to come. As an example, for 16 years, Apache has supported Springboard, a community project to help educate girls in remote areas of Egypt. In many rural villages, lack of local access to education and safety concerns for young girls have resulted in limited educational opportunities. Through the program, Apache has supported the construction of more than 200 mostly one-room girls’ schools in Egypt, which together have enabled approximately 15,000 girls to learn how to read and write.
In the words of Amira Sedhom, a graduate of the project, “Springboard school has had a great impact on my life…it’s helped me to get educated, helped me to show my faculties, helped me to make my dream to come true, and prepared me to take exams and travel abroad. Without Springboard schools, I wouldn’t be all of this. I wouldn’t be educated, wouldn’t have traveled to Cairo, wouldn’t have travelled to the USA, and I wouldn’t have gotten involved in science.”
Apache is connecting dots and changing lives for the better. And so is PepsiCo with its ‘She Feeds the World’ program empowering women in agriculture; Bechtel through its West Nile Delta career development project; and, Facebook by launching an online safety guide for women in Egypt. These efforts and the impactful work of many other members of the U.S.-Egypt Business Council are profiled in a new report —Egypt and the United States-a Shared Future: U.S. Companies Making a Difference in Egypt— released today during a virtual event highlighting social impact initiatives of U.S. companies in Egypt..
For members of the Council, being a good corporate citizen is far more than just a gratifying slogan—it is an intrinsic part of their business model, mindset and mission.
The social impact projects being implemented by these companies illustrate a desire to make a real difference in the lives of Egyptians and a shared ambition to a better future for Egypt. They may be large, multinational corporations headquartered thousands of miles away, but their work and actions are that of local businesses that care deeply about the communities they operate in and the people around them.
As these businesses keep connecting dots to address challenges and help people across Egypt and as we, in the words of Steve Jobs, ‘look backwards’ at the connections, we will see the social fabric of the country growing stronger and the bilateral relationship between our nations becoming more dynamic and more purposeful, helping pave the way for a brighter future.
About the authors
Steve Lutes is executive director Middle East Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He is responsible for managing the U.S.-Egypt Business Council, U.S.-Iraq Business Initiative, the U.S.-GCC Business Initiative, and serves as executive director for each.