HSA Group: Driving sustainable development through investment, innovation and ingenuity
The story of HSA Group’s growth is a story of entrepreneurship, courage, and resilience.
By Abdul Jabbar Hayel Saeed
Chairman and CEO, HSA Group
The international community is in the midst of a period of deep uncertainty, with global pressures such as conflict and political instability, supply disruptions, a cost-of-living crisis and extreme weather events caused by climate change, affecting populations across the globe.
In these tumultuous times, the private sector has a critical role to play: tackling immediate challenges to support vulnerable communities; and innovating and investing to foster a sustainable, resilient and stable future for all.
At HSA Group, we embrace our responsibility to step up and respond to this imperative for action.
Since our establishment 85 years ago, HSA Group has been guided by the philosophy set down by our founders: a belief in doing well by doing good. This philosophy, along with the organisation’s enduring entrepreneurial spirit, informs the way we interact with people and the world today, helping to ensure that our operations deliver a sustainable positive social and economic impact, everywhere we operate.
HSA Group’s strategic approach to supporting sustainable development in our operating environment is unified across three key pillars – People, Planet and Prosperity – reflecting the holistic and integrated way in which we engage and contribute to the world around us.
The story of HSA Group’s growth is a story of entrepreneurship, courage, and resilience. This story has been written by the people that have dedicated their energy and talent to HSA Group’s journey: our employees.
From pursuing innovation, to serving the needs of vulnerable communities through feats of engineering and infrastructure planning, our people live and breathe our values and put our philosophy into action every day.
As Yemen’s largest employer and one of the only certified Top Employer’s in the region, we are particularly conscious of our responsibility to continue supporting thousands of jobs in our home market, despite the ongoing crisis. In recent years, many public sector salaries have not been paid regularly and purchasing power has decreased significantly due to depreciation of the Yemeni rial. Job opportunities too have also become scarcer as many businesses have exited the Yemeni market.
In the midst of this crisis, we are investing significant time and resources in unlocking the long-term potential of the next generation. As a means of nurturing our talent, we offer a range of learning and development programmes in Yemen, which are specifically tailored to meet the needs of our employees and communities, helping them build technical skills for the jobs of the future along with “soft” skills that enable our teams to thrive, personally and professionally:
- The Ta’heel programme harnesses the transformative power of the regional Centre of Excellence in Cairo, offering employees the chance to collaborate with and work alongside experts to sharpen their skills and technical know-how for up to 6 months.
- Our Entilaqa programme is specifically designed for recent Yemeni graduates. Successful applicants enter a 2-year programme rotating through different business segments in HSA Group companies, providing them with first-hand professional experience to advance their careers.
- As part of its contribution to higher education, HSA Group also funds and manages the Al Saeed University in Taiz, which teaches practical courses including technology, medicine, engineering and business administration, which will increase students’ employability.
This commitment to sustainable talent development is core to our people strategy globally, inside and outside the organisation, and has enabled us to develop strategic partnerships with a range of institutions, including the American University in Cairo, to foster the development of HSA Group’s employees and the wider business community.
In establishing these programmes for our communities and employees, we aim to contribute to the achievement of SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, by preparing the next generation of young professionals across the world for the future of work and giving them the tools needed to succeed and provide for themselves and their families.
HSA Group is constantly seeking ways to minimise and mitigate the environmental impact of our operations and contribute to the preservation of resources globally.
A key component of our strategy is the responsible sourcing of raw materials. We deliver this through our rigorous focus on compliance and accountability and the application of our Code of Conduct, developed in collaboration with compliance experts and in line with international best practice. We continue to work closely with our subsidiary companies, suppliers and representatives to ensure the adoption of sustainable business practices.
As a leading FMCG manufacturer, HSA Group uses innovative waste management technologies to minimise the waste created by our products (contributing to the achievement of SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production). Our Research & Development functions, which operate throughout HSA Group’s supply chain, are continuously optimising product lines and processes to achieve a more sustainable and circular business, such as through eliminating excess material and increasing recyclability in product packaging.
To decrease our carbon footprint, we are making changes to our existing facilities. This includes investments in alternative sources of energy to power our operations and physical infrastructure. Solar energy is already a critical source of renewable energy, particularly in equatorial regions like the Middle East, and so we have adapted three of our major facilities in Yemen, Kenya and the United Kingdom to make use of this sustainable resource. To complement solar power, we are also exploring the potential of geothermal energy to maintain base power at our plants and provide thermal heat for production processes.
Alongside carefully managing our own operations, we have taken bold action to help support the progress of our partners on their sustainability journeys, respond to the effects of climate change more broadly and support climate vulnerable communities.
We established Innovative Efficient Solutions (IES), a company located across Europe and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, to support HSA Group’s commercial and industrial partners to reduce their energy use, invest in sustainable energy generation, and sustainably manage their water consumption. In August 2022, the IES delivered one of the top ten largest solar power projects in the United Kingdom at Cepac’s Rotherham factory, involving the implementation of 5,000 solar panels and resulting in a CO2reduction of 670,521 kg to date.Cepac Rotherham, United Kingdom, optimised, sustainable packaging to meet your needs
In Yemen, HSA Group has built resilient water infrastructure and wastewater treatment facilities to support sustainable agricultural activity. Extreme weather events have severely damaged the economy of one of the most arid countries in the world and exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in recent years, with frequent heavy rain and flooding limiting already diminished agricultural yields and threatening local food security.
These circumstances clearly highlight the urgency of the issue and the critical need for swift action in support of communities at risk. Another of Yemen’s food security challenges is the reliability of imports, which the country depends on for 90% of its food supply. In response to this reliance and the growing need for increased domestic food production to achieve SDG 2: Zero Hunger in Yemen, HSA Group invested in infrastructure including solar-powered pump systems for irrigation and Yemen’s first large-scale desalination plant.
To alleviate the immediate water crisis in Yemen, which has caused localised instability and conflict, the Group has also invested in a water trucking project that has delivered almost two billion litres of clean water to those in need, helping to mitigate the effects of the world’s changing climate in a country where over 55% of the population do not have access to sanitation and sufficient clean water. As part of an extensive Water, Sanitation & Health (WASH) programme, these projects helped support approximately 250,000 beneficiaries in 2022 alone.
Over eight decades, HSA Group and our operating companies have become part of the social fabric of the markets where we operate. We have built a portfolio of trusted brands and reach millions of households in over 80 markets, serving consumers in times of prosperity and crisis alike. Our desire to give back to local communities has been constant throughout, in the knowledge that our legacy will be measured by the impact we have on the people we serve and our role in bringing about a prosperous future for communities across the world.
It is this desire that has led to the establishment of our philanthropic foundation, Hayel Saeed Anam Charitable Foundation (HSACF), and its widespread humanitarian and community work, which has reached individuals and communities with transformative projects since its creation in the early 1970s. Since 2020, we have increased our philanthropic spend by over 160%, with HSA Group deploying a multi-million-dollar budget on philanthropic activity in Yemen in 2022 alone.
We are a purpose-driven organisation and have always sought to act without hesitation in our philanthropy to support communities. Recently, when a major environmental catastrophe threatened lives and livelihoods on the shores of Yemen’s Red Sea coast with a decrepit oil tanker poised to detonate at any moment and spill 1.1 million barrels of oil, we were the first private sector organisation globally to step up and donate to the UN’s emergency salvage operation. In February 2023, when a devastating earthquake hit Syria and Turkey, HSA Group donated US$500,000 to the emergency relief efforts.
It is our belief that the private sector has the power to effect tangible change with both philanthropic contributions and by pooling resources, sharing knowledge and engaging proactively with its consumers to understand and meet their needs. Equal access to financial services is a necessary foundation for prosperity, and economic development, which is why HSA Group launched the ONE Cash company in January 2023.
With already 300,000 user base, this Yemen and MENA-focused mobile money platform enables millions of Yemeni consumers to control their finances easily and seamlessly and supports wider financial inclusion in rural areas (SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth).
We are proud of our contribution towards the achievement of the UN SDGs and the impact that these initiatives have on our consumers’ lives – whether that be improving educational and nutritional outcomes (SDGs 4 and 2) for children through our School Feeding Programme in partnership with Tetra Pak, or upgrading local water infrastructure to provide a sustainable source of drinking water (SDGs 9 and 6). Together with partners that share a belief in doing well by doing good, we are committed to serving vulnerable communities and making a positive impact in society.
To ensure that our legacy endures long into the future, we are investing in educating the next generation (SDG 4: Quality Education). The International Modern Arabic School (IMAS) – a project managed by the non-profit Humanitarian Development Program, under the HSACF umbrella – provides high-quality, free and equitable education, as well as teaching equipment, to extremely underprivileged children across three schools in Yemen and to asylum seekers at a school in Malaysia.
By 2025, we aim to have established seven new IMAS locations, serving almost 2,500 students. We also fund thousands of scholarships for Yemeni students to study in local and at world-class universities and have established training programmes for current and prospective employees in partnership with leading global businesses, including technology giants SAP and Cisco. Through these programmes, Yemeni youth will gain vital skills to progress their careers and unlock their potential.
Our enduring commitment to sustainable impact
In taking a long-term approach to sustainable growth, and prioritising investment in impactful innovation, HSA Group seeks to better the lives of the communities it serves every day.
From humble beginnings, our organisation has always sought to bring happiness to the lives of those we touch, by acting courageously and championing a strategic and impactful approach to development: empowering people, protecting the planet and driving prosperity, which will help us to continue our journey to a more sustainable future for all.
Whilst we advance on this pathway, we continue to focus on innovation, continuous improvement and adaptation across our operations and product portfolio, prioritising positive social and economic impact and supporting the needs of the communities we serve around the world.