Ghassan Nuqul, Vice Chairman of Nuqul Group
Nuqul Group’s Micro Venture Fund introduced an effective piloted model and recently created an impactful and sustainable change in local communities. The concept is built on strong economical and social foundations which goes beyond charitable donations and is driven by micro venturing.
According to Ghassan Nuqul, Vice Chairman of Nuqul Group, “The piloted phase of our Micro Venture Fund was launched to support entrepreneurial projects in our adopted Al Koura District. Our goal is to maintain the institutional aspect of corporate responsibility investing in it as partners with long term change; it is not humanitarian aid and extends to achieve a much broader concept.”
In the presence of Dr. Rami Al Karmi and Dr. Amjad Al Aryan- Shabakat Al Ordon’s representatives and Nuqul Group’s partner in this project, Nuqul emphasized the importance of the private sector’s role. Our message is that community service should not be a set of ad- hoc reactions but rather an institutional framework aimed at creating a realistic and positive impact in our communities.
Nuqul also encouraged the private sector to take an integral part in the community development process in Jordan through funding sustainable projects which will eventually help entrepreneurs to generate income and live a decent life enabling them to self sustain their families. He added: “The Group is developing a CSR model through our learnings in Al Koura to be emulated elsewhere especially in Jordan’s poverty pockets”.
Nuqul Group’s CSR in Al Koura district was initiated by engaging the community to identify and prioritize their local requirements. A comprehensive needs assessment study has been carried out in partnership with “The Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development” (JOHUD) and since then served the Group as the benchmark and starting point.
“We started with the school and family feeding programs which led to considerable improvements in students’ attendance and commitments resulting in better academic achievements”.
Nuqul added that the Group’s program also included supporting families of the district through several occasional campaigns such as winter and Ramadan, among others. Furthermore, intensive training programs were conducted with 275 students who implemented 452 on the ground community service projects reaching up to 2751 beneficiaries.
In parallel, the Group also established a community library and a playground in Kufr Awan village supported by an interactive drawing competition and other cultural and educational activities.
Nuqul stressed that the current core activity is the Micro Venture Fund; 300 ideas were presented to a specialized committee who shortlisted the applications to 23 projects to be financed with an amount reaching up to 3000 JDs per project pending on the size and volume. Most of the projects evolved around the production of products from the existing environment such as honey, thyme, soap, mushrooms and dairy products in addition to operational projects offering services to the residents of the area.
It is worth mentioning that the new ventures have already started their production employing 60 community residents with a total of 300 direct beneficiaries.
“This is only the beginning” Nuqul Said. “Hopefully, we will be able to take our success story and implement this model in other districts”.
Nuqul Group’s experience left a noticeable mark attracting renowned entities such as the World Bank, the president of which has recently visited Jordan and expressed the willingness to support the dissemination of the experience in other parts of the Kingdom.
Nuqul added: “What confirms the success of this project in achieving our goals is the fact that 80 percent of the projects were initiated and managed by females which strengthens our support to Jordanian women and empowers them to be active participants in the economy of our country.”
He also encouraged the private sector to take the lead in community service initiatives and corporate responsibility efforts. We have the right mix of expertise and resources; which when utilized efficiently can support and empower our communities with positive change towards the better.
Governmental incentives can play an instrumental role when it comes to the success of any corporate responsibility effort; if the link exists then we are talking about real change. Motivational mechanisms and tax reduction policies can definitely support CSR projects which in return will create job opportunities replacing many foreign labors with Jordanians.
Rami Al Karmi, Chief Executive Officer of Shabakat Al Ordon, said: “Nuqul Group’s Micro Venture Fund in Al Koura is an excellent model that received many positive reviews from experts in this field.”
Al Karmi pointed out that Professor Muhammad Younis, one of the pioneers and leaders of microfinance in Bangladesh, showed interest in Nuqul Group’s experience and his interest to provide his expertise in circulating the project’s concept.
He also said that in such projects the actual funding is not the major element, studies show that 9 out of 10 micro financed projects fail because of poor management, lack of seriousness and commitment, sales and marketing related issues among others. The Micro Venture Fund is more effective and efficient because it builds on the capital setting conditions for the beneficiaries to commence work, start the production phase and generate cash flow that would sustain the project before they become eligible to graduate and become fully independent.
Funding comes in four stages and is linked to the accomplishment of the requirements of each stage. Owners of projects are required to establish their businesses in three months then commence their production and marketing for six months and reach a specific amount of sales that enables the project to be sustainable. Only at this stage, owners are given two options to choose from; they can either stay partners with the fund or they buy the fund’s share in order to completely own their business.
Al Karmi said that the strength of Shabakat Al Ordon and Nuqul Group’s partnership lies in the goal that we both seek: popularizing the micro venture fund concept to reach up to 50 funds by the end of next year, 2012. We already have several interested private sector representatives and are we currently finalizing 7 new funds to be implemented in poverty pockets.