POSITIVE SOCIAL IMPACT

Kuwait 2019 | RETAIL | INTERVIEW

Contributing to the improved health and wellbeing of communities and reducing environmental footprint are key priorities for Unilever, which is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of up to 1 billion people globally by 2020.

Khalid Abbas
BIOGRAPHY
Born in March 1982 in Jordan, Khalid Abbas is an Australian citizen and is currently the Country Manager for Unilever in Kuwait. He obtained his master’s degree and two PhDs from RMIT in Melbourne, Australia. He has over 15 years of FMCG experience in the Gulf and Levant region.

How is Unilever actively improving daily lives of Kuwaitis?

Contributing to the improved health and wellbeing of communities is a key priority for Unilever, and one of the main pillars of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (the Plan), whereby we have committed to improving the health and wellbeing of up to 1 billion people globally by 2020. Since the inception of the Plan in 2012, in the Gulf region, we have educated over 5 million people on hand and oral hygiene via our Signal & Lifebuoy oral and handwashing programs. Additionally, Omo is advocating for experiential play for children via its 'Right to Play' Campaign given that research has shown that children in MENA spend less than 1 hour of playtime outdoors due to increased time spent on digital devices. The Omo “Dirt is good” campaign encourages children to spend more time outdoors, resulting in improved learning, while freeing up time for mothers by offering superior clothes cleaning. With regards to our Foods & Beverages portfolio, we are committed to making products that are both enjoyable and healthy, while also helping address some of the world's most pressing public health challenges, including the double burden of over- and under-nutrition. Since end-2018 we have taken out trans-fat completely from our products, while 100% of our ice cream portfolio has less than 25g of sugar per portion and 59% of our portfolio meets the highest nutritional standards. In our personal care category, we have launched several items inspired by natural elements.

In what ways is Unilever working toward halving its environmental footprint by 2030?

Our vision aims to decouple our growth from our environmental footprint while increasing our positive social impact. Our Lipton Tea Factory located in the Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai was the first manufacturing site in the UAE to send 'Zero waste to landfill' for non-hazardous waste. Additionally, our Dubai Personal Care Manufacturing Facility was one of the first factories in the region to have both solar photovoltaic and solar thermal systems, totaling up to 2MW of power generation. We also educate customers on the need for water conservation. Held in partnership with DEWA & SEWA, our 'water saver' initiative educated 7.25 million consumers between 2012 and 2015. Notably, we have partnered up with Re-Food Kuwait, a not-for-profit organization that takes products nearing expiry and distributes it to people in need.

What actions have been taken in Kuwait toward an increased inclusion of females in the workplace?

Unilever is a strong believer in the fact that women's empowerment is one of the most important enablers of sustainable human development and economic growth. Our global target is to empower 5 million women by 2020. Internally, since 2009, globally we have committed to building a gender-balanced organization and set a clear ambition to have 50% women in management positions by 2020. By end of 2018, 49% of our managers globally were women. Our progress in MENA too has been strong with women today forming around 34% of our management workforce – a 68% increase since 2011. Moreover, female participation in our Senior Management in MENA increased from 9% in 2011 to 25% in 2018.

How can Unilever support SME's locally?

Unilever, along with its local partners in Kuwait support local small business, and can help by providing a line of credit, in addition to branding and/or activation which depends on the activity of the small business. Of course, all such SME's sign up to our business codes, and we ensue that their operations support fair play principles.

What are your expectations for the year ahead?

In general, I expect market growth given the approach of the Dubai Expo 2020 and WC2022 and which in my opinion will impact Kuwait positively. I also expect the e-commerce sector to grow further, which will help the sector grow overall.