By Siaka Momoh
Olam International Limited (Olam), a leading agri-business operating across the value chain in 65 countries, today announced five global commitments in celebration of its Silver Jubilee Year.
The commitments include Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security; Olam Scholarship Programme to foster leadership in emerging markets; Olam Foundation; Building Sustainable Futures Forum; and Donations to four Singapore charities.
Sunny Verghese, Olam’s Group Managing Director and CEO, said the commitments are aligned to the company’s corporate purpose of ‘growing responsibly’. He said the commitments are also designed to address some of the challenges facing the next generation, such as food, water and energy security, the impact of climate change, sustainable and inclusive growth, and good governance, particularly in the emerging markets.
Said Verghese: “As we celebrate Olam’s 25th year and its journey from a single-product, single-country company to a global agri-business, we reflect on our vision of transcending boundaries – the meaning of Olam – and consider how we will continue to evolve over the next 25 years.
“The five commitments announced today go beyond the commercial framework of our business, recognising the role the private sector has to play in helping to holistically address key global challenges. We hope that our efforts will complement and strengthen those of others as we work together towards an enduring and sustainable collective future.”
Sunny Verghese gave details of the five global commitments as follows:
· The Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security
Launched in September 2014 in partnership with international scientific organisation Agropolis Foundation, the Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security will recognise an outstanding scientific innovation for its potential impact on the availability, affordability, accessibility or adequacy of food, as well as support research to further its development.
The winner will receive US$50,000. Entries close on December 4, 2014, with the winner to be announced in March 2015 at the 3rd Global Science Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture in Montpellier, France.
· The Olam Scholarship Programme
The Olam Scholarship programme is aimed at fostering leadership and governance in the emerging markets by supporting aspiring and capable students to pursue higher education in esteemed international institutions. Through the scholarships and more importantly, the Olam mentoring of awardees, we hope to play our part in creating a generation of change catalysts who will contribute towards economic transformation, provide good governance, and help develop these emerging economies.
The programme will award up to 10 scholarships each year to postgraduate students wishing to complete further study in development economics, business management, and public policy and administration, and who are passionate about working in emerging markets.
· The Olam Foundation
With 25 years of operating at farmgate around the world, Olam has become familiar with the key drivers that can improve rural livelihoods. The Olam Foundation provides a vehicle for Olam to support these developmental issues beyond the day-to-day commercial framework of our business.
With an initial corpus of US$3.0 million we will focus on applications for projects in select developmental sectors in the targeted countries. We also intend to make annual contributions to the corpus to scale the scope of the Foundation’s activities.
· Building Sustainable Futures Forum
The Building Sustainable Futures Forum, to be convened by Olam, will be a platform where the rising resource constraints threatening continued global development can be debated and solved in a holistic way.
The Forum, to be held in the second half of 2015, will bring together leaders from different industries across the private sector, NGOs, Governments and academics to focus on key developmental issues, including food security, water security, energy security, climate change, sustainable growth and inclusive growth.
Our aim is to break down silos and find sustainable solutions to these interlinked yet complex and intractable issues. Through starting the debate, we hope to develop a practical, action-oriented approach, with inter-disciplinary collaboration and a focus on private sector-led programmes, in order to find solutions to these key global developmental challenges.
· Charitable donations
As the home of our headquarters for 18 of the 25 years, Singapore has been an essential factor within our success. In recognition of the support shown by the Singaporean community, we are awarding four individual donations of S$100,000 to four local charities: CDAC (Chinese Development Assistance Council); Yayasan MENDAKI (Council for the Development of Singapore Malay/Muslim Community); SINDA (Singapore India Development Association); and Community Chest.
In addition, this year Olam has gifted S$1.0 million to the recently launched NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies in Singapore; and US$250,000 to help fight the Ebola epidemic in West Africa through Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), as well as the Red Cross and Caritas via the World Cocoa Foundation.
Olam International is a leading agri-business operating across the value chain, supplying various products across 16 platforms to over 13,800 customers worldwide. From a direct presence in more than 65 countries with sourcing and processing in most major producing countries, Olam has built a global leadership position in many of its businesses.
Headquartered in Singapore and listed on the SGX-ST on February 11, 2005, Olam is a component stock in the Straits Times Index (STI), MSCI Singapore Free, S&P Agribusiness Index and the DAXglobal Agribusiness Index. Olam is the only Singapore firm to be named in the 2009, 2010 and 2012 Forbes Asia Fabulous 50, an annual list of 50 big-cap and most profitable firms in the region. It is also the first and only Singapore company to be named in the 2009 lists for the Global Top Companies for Leaders and the Top Companies for Leaders in the Asia Pacific region by Hewitt Associates, the RBL Group and Fortune.