Maryah On the Cutting Edge

of Corporate Social Responsibility In Jordan

Mel picked up a March edition of Jordan Business, and I’ve been reading it over breakfast. I found an article related to this article by Nas of the Black Iris about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), a movement I’ve recently become more and more aware of. This is the principle behind such organizations as the Ford Foundation or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the idea that corporations have a moral obligation to give back to the community, and moreover, that such “charitable” acts can actually improve their brand image and increase their market share. For example, by donating computer labs to schools all over Jordan, the Gates Foundation has assured that when Jordanians do buy computers, they are most likely to buy Windows (or pirate it, if it’s only for personal use!), because that’s what Jordanians are familiar with.

I recently learned from Sameh that Ruwwad, where I volunteer on Saturdays, was established by Aramex (the Arab version of Fed Ex). They are one of the organizations featured in the Jordan Business article. Although you surely noticed that I’m somewhat cynical about CSR, I also believe very strongly in Ruwwad’s mission, and I can see clearly how it has improved life in Jabal Nathif. Whatever their motivations, Aramex is doing excellent work in the community. Besides, let’s face it, corporations are inherently selfish, beholden to their stockholders and their profit margins, and unlikely to do anything that doesn’t enhance their long-term profits and market share. I’m just pleased to see them thinking beyond the next fiscal year!

Also in the magazine article was Questscope, an amazing organization empowering Iraqi refugees and poor Jordanians to work to improve their own communities. I did some work with them a year ago, and was really excited about the possibility (ultimately unfulfilled) of maybe getting a contract for full-time work with them.

So there I was, delighted to find that I had serendipitously fallen in with two of the most progressive CSR programs in Jordan without even knowing it.

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