The AUC School of Business’s John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy, Civic Engagement and Responsible Business organized the sixth annual Takaful conference in AUC New Cairo.
Business leaders, entrepreneurs, academics, researchers, educators as well as high-ranking civil society and government members were all among attendees of the two-day conference, which was entitled “Philanthropy in Transition: Exploring the Path to SDGs (sustainable developmental goals)”.
The purpose of this year’s Takaful closely followed Gerhart Center’s innermost ethos. In other words, the conference sought to encourage interaction between scholarly analysis and lived experience, with the hope of contributing to sound policy and practice in philanthropy and civic engagement in Egypt’s long-term future. Director of the Gerhart Center Ali Awni succinctly put its motives best when stating: “Takaful is about social solidarity for social change."
Its nearly 15 sessions of panels, discussions and lectures outlined the limitations and possibilities for such sustainable implementations in the country. The mood – perhaps surprisingly – was largely positive throughout. In fact, Gerhart Center had put an attendance target of 100 to 150 for Takaful. Over its two days, though, more than 250 people showed up from countries such as Sudan, Algeria, Palestine, Jordan, Oman, Turkey, Iraq, the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and of course, Egypt.
The enthusiasm began with the keynote speeches given by the Secretary General of the Board of Trustees in the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development, Yousriya Sawiris, and the Chairman of the Nile Badrawi Foundation for Education and Development, Hossam Badrawi.
Sawiris acknowledged the difficulties in implementing long-term plans in Egypt, yet refused to shy away from the challenge. “Experience has taught me that rather than fighting the system, it is better to join hands,” she noted. Badrawi, for his part, dedicated most of his speech to education, outlining that “we [Egypt] can't be bound by systematic education. Things have changed. We should invest in the future, not in the past.”
Nearly all discussions opened up at Takaful 2017 placed such emphasis on the present and future, and firmly left the past in the rearview mirror. In doing so, the conference succeeded in moving the dialogue where it belongs, opening up several opportunities for collaboration between stakeholders in the future.
Social contributions come in many shapes and forms. Some are business-oriented; some are entrepreneurial; and some are educational. What matters, more than anything, is that they all point in the same direction and aim for the same goal: development. Perhaps the most sustainable indicator for reaching that goal is solidarity, or ‘takaful’ when translated to Arabic.