Kuwaiti entrepreneur Zahed Sultan talks about the development of organizations to navigate civic and environmental concerns using creative, socially tactful methods.
Leading a handful of start-ups, Zahed Sultan has an emergent presence as one of the Middle East’s top social entrepreneurs. As a talented and creative thought-leader, he gives insight into what has made his ventures in Kuwait so successful and how and his team are tackling environmental concerns.
Tell us about your background and how REUSE came to be established.
“In November of 2005, I co-founded El Boutique Creative Group. El Boutique Creative Group is a visual communications consultancy devoted to creative thought and social responsibility. We offer a diverse mix of communication platforms and advisory services to both corporations and consumers alike and strive to invigorate them with creative energy via conscious thought.
In May of 2007, in an effort to expand our initiatives and introduce a new brand identity for a client, El Boutique designed a creative brand launch event for The Metal and Recycling Company (MRC), a leading commercial waste management company in Kuwait, to raise awareness for the environment, promote recycling, and highlight the importance of waste management. The event was entitled REUSE.
Conceptualizing and organizing REUSE 1.0 brought about the idea for developing an initiative dedicated to social responsibility in the Arab World – en.v”
How does communicating with the private sector differ from communication to the public sector?
“Communications to stakeholder communities must be dealt with tactfully and strategically – especially in the Middle East. Interests in any given community differs from one to the other (be them personal, societal or commercial). Therefore, in order to ensure effective reach you must have a clear vision of specific wants and needs, incentivize your approach (or activities) and measure outcomes / returns. To our dismay we are traditionally a reactive society; we wait for something to go wrong and then act upon it. Environmental concerns are becoming “a concern” because the outcomes of environmental misconduct (on a multitude of levels and sectors) are now visibly impacting people’s daily lives – in turn they take notice and are inclined to act.”
REUSE is a very successful platform that’s now in its 4th year. What about the en.v initiative attracts social and brand communities?
“en.v is a budding initiative. I am thankful that we identified this niche or need several years ago and planted the seeds for it to blossom. Our efforts to ensure consistency (from partner engagement to impactful communications) are what have and hopefully will support our organic growth as we expand to appeal to global Arab audiences.”
Tell us about Dow’s Marine Conservation Program in Kuwait’s islands. How is Dow preserving Kuwait’s islands? What are your other sponsors/partners doing?
“Dow recently signed a title partnership with en.v in support of our marine conservation program (entitled Dow’s Marine Conservation Program) and the fourth edition of REUSE.
Our marine program’s activities launch in Q1 of 2011 and will aspire to group and gather existing / active volunteer groups with varying skillsets under a single umbrella to work towards developing a collaborative (and sustainable) marine protection / preservation program. Dow’s integration of science and technology with “The Human Element” is mutually aligned with our commitment to preserving a primary natural resource of Kuwait.
Other partners and sponsors of en.v are actively involved with social causes that align with their individual corporate strategies – such as Zain Telecommunications’ investments in recycling, Agility Logistics investments in humanitarian disaster relief, and ExxonMobil’s in youth and education.“”
What trend makes you optimistic about the future?
“e-communities – Technology is playing a vital role in civic society today. The digital realm provides aspiring professionals, active youth, or passionate individuals in general with a complimentary set of tools and platforms with which to engage desired stakeholder communities – which in the physical realm would prove costly and less accessible. Furthermore, as interconnectivity becomes more advanced, content, once developed as static, is now being developed dynamically (and on the go) thus fueling active participants in the e-realm to adopt DIY methods to create and disseminate content across a multitude of media almost instantly (hence the creation of nomenclature such as guerilla marketing, viral media, etc.)
Technology is the social lubricant that today has enabled civic participants to group and gather more frequently through the digital realm (by way of “commenting”, “rating” or “liking” other participant activities) thus allowing for greater social inclusion – not to mention creating tangential e-communities.”
Anything else to add?
“Please go to www.iamzahed.com to learn more about the creative ventures I am involved with (next on the agenda is the release of my debut music album in the Spring of 2011).”