Author Archives: Fuad Bin Omar

Meet the Winners: Zahi Khouri


Khouri_Zahi Khouri’s peaceful childhood ended abruptly when he was ten years old. Born in Jaffa, Palestine, his family joined thousands of other Palestinians a decade later as they were driven into exile in 1948. The family settled in Lebanon; Khouri pursued his education in Germany and France.

After moving to Richmond, Virginia, in 1967, he worked for various multinational corporations in New York City, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. Then in 1993, Oslo Peace Accords were signed. The agreement, brokered by Norway after secret negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, included mutual recognition of each entity and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, with limited self-governance of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Encouraged by the Accords, Khouri joined with several partners to create businesses in the West Bank and Gaza. They formed the Palestinian Development and Investment Company (PADICO), the largest Palestinian investment company in Palestine, and set up PalTel, the Palestinian Telecommunication Group.

In 1995, Khouri and his partners entered into an international venture, in partnership with the Coca-Cola Company, founding the Palestinian National Beverage Company, holder of the Coke franchise for the West Bank and Gaza. “For me, it wasn’t about money. Coke could put Palestine on the map,” Khouri told the Institute for Middle East Understanding in 2013.

The beverage company has undertaken many corporate social responsibility projects, including building libraries for children in Palestinian hospitals in Ramallah, Gaza, and Nablus; two wastewater treatment units, and creating a Back to School campaign for impoverished children across Palestine.

This year, the Palestinian National Beverage Company plans to build its first factory in Gaza. Khouri discussed the Gaza venture last fall in a Jerusalem Post interview: “This is something that’s extremely important if we want to talk about peace and coexistence. It’s about where business can contribute to peace – don’t talk to me about the word process, I mean actual peace – by creating jobs and facilitating the life of the private sector,” he said, adding, “The only enemy of extremism is good jobs.”

Khouri’s commitment to peace led him to establish the Zahi Khouri Fellowship Program, in partnership with Tomorrow’s Youth Organization, an American-based organization working to enable Palestinians of all ages living in disadvantaged areas of the Middle East to become healthy, active, and responsible family and community members.

The Khouri Fellowship Program places Palestinian-American students and graduates in the most underprivileged areas of Nablus, offering them the experience of professional development in education, youth/female empowerment, and economic development. Fellowship projects have included educational programming for women and children, professional competency courses at An-Najah National University, and working with in the Fostering Women Entrepreneurs in Nablus and in Lebanon programs.

Khouri also serves as Chairman of the Palestine International Business Forum (PIBF), the Carter Advisory body in Palestine, and chairs the largest Palestinian NGO, the NGO Development Center in association with the World Bank.

He remains committed to building businesses and encouraging entrepreneurs, and building peace. He put it succinctly in 2013: “The best engine driving peace, stability, and growth is a healthy business environment.”

Meet the Winners: Juan Andrés Cano


Cano_Juan Andrés Cano describes himself as a “professional entrepreneur,” one who began by selling candy at school. Today Cano isn’t selling a product, but is working directly with businesses and entrepreneurs to enable them to follow ethical principles and to create sustainable peacebuilding solutions.

A law degree from the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, and a Diploma in Culture of Peace from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain, gave Cano the foundation he needed to start Semilla Consultores Ltda, an ethics consultancy based in Bogotá that works with clients to develop ethical and sustainability criteria for business management.

The search for sustainable economic models is “the ethics of our time,” Cano says, and Semilla — Spanish for seed — believes that businesses need to prepare “for a market that increasingly requires ethical, transparent, respectful of all people and the environment and, therefore, sustainable practices.”

In addition to Semilla, Cano is Chief Executive Officer of Value4Chain, an organization which helps companies identify areas of improvement in managing ethics, compliance, corporate governance, and generating social and environmental value. Value4Chain utilizes the Index SLA, the Index of Sustainability and Environment Legislation, a tool to record, evaluate, and compare the management of CSR (corporate social responsibility) and sustainability of enterprises and supply chains, based on compliance with international norms and standards.

PeaceStartup, a joint initiative of Value4Chain and Business & Human Rights (Spain), is a recent Cano venture. With PeaceStartup, he and his partners in Colombia and Spain can better work together creating sustainable peacebuilding solutions for businesses and entrepreneurs.

As Cano says, the path of entrepreneurship can be a solitary one and it “is easy to get lost in a jungle of unlimited opportunities. My main personal challenges: to find, understand and support a team and focus on a single problem, one solution. No need to take on the world in one bite.”

Meet the Winners: Paul Polman


PolmanPaul Polman boyhood’s plans didn’t quite work out as he hoped. Growing up in The Netherlands, he wanted to be a doctor. But Dutch medical-school openings were determined by a lottery system and he wasn’t picked. “I still wonder what my life would have been like as a doctor,” he told Management Today in a 2011 interview.

Instead Polman studied for the priesthood in a Carmelite seminary before earning an undergraduate degree in The Netherlands and then coming to the United States for graduate work. He received an MBA in Finance and International Marketing from the University of Cincinnati. Cincinnati, Ohio, happens to be the home of the Proctor & Gamble Company, a multinational consumer goods company. Polman would work for P&G for twenty-seven years before moving to Nestlé in 2006.

in 2009, he was named CEO of Unilever, the multinational Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company. He is also chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a board member of the United Nations Global Compact, and co-founder of the Dutch Sustainable Growth Coalition.

Polman set out to make some changes at Unilever. Shaking up the business world by abandoning Unilever’s earnings forecasts and championing the customer over the investor hasn’t been easy. But, as Polman said, “If we are in synch with consumer needs and the environment in which we operate, and take responsibility for society as well as for our employees, then the shareholder will also be rewarded.”

And Polman has gone further. Under his leadership, Unilever has enacted the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, with the intention of improving health and well-being, reducing environmental impact, and enhancing livelihoods world-wide. The company’s goals for 2020 include helping a billion people improve health and hygiene; cutting the greenhouse gas, water usage, and associated waste impact of its products; and sustainably sourcing 100 percent of its agricultural raw materials.

Within the three large goals are nine separate areas of concentration, with their own individual targets. The company’s website includes a page, where viewers can explore an interactive performance summary. In January, Unilever announced that it has achieved a key sustainability goal of sending zero non-hazardous waste to landfill from its global factory network.

But what will happen, the Management Today interviewer asked, if the sustainable living plan turns out to be unsustainable?

‘I’m uncomfortable about it myself, “ Polman replied. “You have to be if you are going to achieve audacious goals. But what is the alternative? … There will always be cynics who ask: ‘If you miss one target, will you still be the CEO?’ But these people are spectators. We say: ‘We can’t do this on our own, so be part of it.’ In that spirit, I think we can do well and move the world to a better place.”

2015 is a critical year for human development and climate change, as Polman pointed out in a January essay for Huffington In September, world leaders will meet in New York to determine the Sustainable Development Goals that will replace the Millennium Development Goals. Hopes are high that at the December COP 21 Climate Change Conference in Paris, the very real prospect of a global agreement on curbing carbon emissions and the promise of a more stable and sustainable future will be achieved.

“I am optimistic,” he wrote. “Momentum is building. Progress is being made. By changing the way we do business, by seeing the transformation to a low-carbon economy as an opportunity to be seized, not a risk to be managed, by looking beyond our own impacts to systemic areas where we can make a transformational difference, and by working with others to achieve shared goals, business can play a much bigger role in helping to create a better future.

“But there’s no time to lose. The time to act is now.”

Meet the Winners: Poman Lo


Poman_Poman Lo has been mastering adult achievements since she was a young girl. A native Hong Kong, she was named Hong Kong Outstanding Student at 14. A year later, she won the Angier B. Duke Scholarship, a merit scholarship to Duke University. By 19, she had graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

In 2000, she joined her family’s business, Regal Hotels International, becoming vice chairperson and managing director of the group’s twenty-five world-class hotels in Hong Kong and mainland China in December, 2013.

Lo has followed the Buddhist ideas of simplicity, environment protection, and harmony in setting forth sustainable development for the Regal group. In 2010, a plan to control carbon emission in the Regal iClub Hotel in Wan Chai was established and the hotel became the first in Hong Kong to be granted carbon neutral status. In addition, most of the Regal hotel restaurants serve a “low carbon ” that emphasizes the use of local food ingredients, reduced use of food additives, and low energy cooking method.

Lo was also looking for other challenges and in 2012, she founded Century Innovative Technology Limited (CIT), is a children’s multimedia company.

A devoted dog lover, Lo used her favorite pets as inspiration for “Bodhi and Friends,” a 3-D animated series featuring the characters of Bodhi and his group of buddies. Developed by CIT, “Bodhi and Friends” now includes more than 100 episodes that have been seen across China and Hong Kong. The company is also producing Bodhi-related educational books, games apps, interactive online games, as well as interactive learning platforms.

Building on the success of Bodhi, Lo launched the Bodhi Love Foundation, to “support significant charity initiatives, especially relating to the holistic health and educational needs of underprivileged children.” The website,, features interactive games and videos that promote positive values and children’s intellectual development.

When she is not busy with her hotel management duties or planning new adventures for Bodhi, Po has worked with UNICEF, the Aiyou Huaxia Charity Foundation, and Centum Charitas Foundation. She has also worked with Oxfam HK, Doctor Pet, the Hong Kong Guide Dog Association, and the Mental Health Foundation.

Renowned Marketing Expert Philip Kotler To Speak At Oslo Business For Peace Award Ceremony


kotlerBWThe Business for Peace Foundation is honoured to have Philip Kotler, acclaimed international authority on marketing and marketing principles, as a speaker at the Oslo Business for Peace Award Ceremony, to be held May 6, in Oslo City Hall, from 17.00–18.30 (5 to 6:30 p.m.). The ceremony is open to the public with registration.

Kotler is the S.C. Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the author of Marketing Management, the definitive marketing textbook, now in its 14th edition. His newest book, Confronting Capitalism: Real Solutions for a Troubled Economic System, examines fourteen major shortcomings facing capitalism today. Each problem’s sources and causes are reviewed, and solutions are offered, including ways to link private and public initiatives to help create shared prosperity and positive change.

Kotler has long favored broadening the field of marketing to include non-profit organizations and government agencies. In 1971, Kotler and Gerald Zaltman defined the field of social marketing, where marketing theory is applied to influence behavioral change that would benefit consumers, their peers, and society as a whole.

In 2010, Kotler founded the World Marketing Summit, an independent global organization focusing on working with global leaders in marketing and business, as well as research and academics, politics and society, and women and gender, with the goals of alleviating poverty and meeting international development objectives.

In addition to Confronting Capitalism, Kotler is the author of over fifty books and 100+ journal articles. The winner of numerous marketing awards and honorary degrees, he was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame in 2014.

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