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Pearl Initiative hosts Philanthropy Impact Forum, reflecting on programme's achievements across the region

Pearl Initiative hosts Philanthropy Impact Forum, reflecting on programme's achievements across the region

Tuesday, March 19, 2024/ Editor -  


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The Forum marked the culmination of the commitment of the Pearl Initiative’s Governance in Philanthropy programme to support strategic giving by institutional and individual donors in the Gulf region

A global survey by the Philanthropy Alliance Foundation found that 89% of respondents expect substantial growth in philanthropic giving across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East

Dubai – 19 March, 2024: The Pearl Initiative, a business-led non-profit organization focused on promoting corporate accountability in the Gulf region, hosted the Philanthropy Impact Forum on March 06, 2024, at the Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) in Dubai, UAE. The Forum served as a culmination of the efforts and achievements of the Governance in Philanthropy programme, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, developed to support corporate and individual donors striving to be more strategic and impactful in their giving.  A key takeaway from the convening was the need for heightened regional collaboration, amongst all actors, including the private sector, foundations, nonprofits, and individual donors, to ensure greater impact at a systemic level.

A special line-up of expert speakers and panellists contributed their insights to these discussions. The list included Ayla Bajwa, Senior Vice President of Sustainability at DP World; Nicolas Heard, Acting Director General at Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund; Neha Hiranandani, Author and Philanthropist; and Lynn Zovighian, Founder of the Zovighian Partnership, amongst others, who enriched the dialogue and inspired innovative approaches to philanthropic collaboration. The convening was kickstarted with a keynote address by Barbara Lethem Ibrahim, Founding Executive Director of the Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement; Founding member of the Arab Foundations Forum; and co-author of the book From Charity to Social Change: Trends in Arab Philanthropy. Additionally, the Forum featured the soft launch of the NextGen Philanthropy Research project, developed by the Pearl Initiative in collaboration with the Zovighian Partnership, a social investment platform in the Middle East.

Anissa Punjani, Governance in Philanthropy Programme Manager, said, 'We are proud to have hosted the Philanthropy Impact Forum. According to a global survey by the Philanthropy Alliance Foundation, 89 percent believe that Africa, Asia, and the Middle East will experience the highest growth in philanthropic giving over the next 25 years, indicating a substantial increase in philanthropic capital in the coming decades. Thus, it is imperative to promote transparency and accountability in the philanthropic sector.'

“The NextGen Philanthropy Research project was developed as part of the Circle project, a new phase of the Governance in Philanthropy programme launched in 2021, and it seeks to explore emerging trends and dynamics shaping the future of philanthropy in the region. By conducting in-depth research and analysis, the project aims to provide valuable insights and guidance to philanthropic donors and organisations, empowering them to adapt and thrive in an ever-evolving landscape,” Punjani added.  The regional research project will be officially launched in the upcoming months.

The Governance in Philanthropy programme was established to enhance strategic and impactful giving amongst corporate and individual donors in the Gulf region. The programme recognized the necessity for improved governance standards within the philanthropic ecosystem of the region.

As a pivotal component of this programme, the Circle project was initiated to deepen engagement with donors and provide tailored tools, training, and expert guidance aimed at enhancing their philanthropic strategies. The Circle project operates within the framework of the Governance in Philanthropy programme and aims to foster a community of donors committed to transparency, accountability, and impactful giving in the Gulf region.

Speaking about the role of the private sector in philanthropy, Ayla Bajwa, SVP of Sustainability at DP World said, “DP World aims to integrate purpose into everything we do, aligning philanthropic efforts with our core values and business objectives. With this approach, we can enhance our social impact and create sustainable value for our company and the communities we serve.”

Neha Hiranandani, Author and Philanthropist, who spoke on the Forum’s panel titled The Role of Women in Philanthropy, commented, “Women have long since played a substantial role in philanthropy; levering generosity, compassion, empathy, and collaboration when deploying funds. By recognizing the invaluable contributions of women in giving, we can all aspire to strive for greater impact, with inclusivity and diversity in mind with regards to our philanthropic endeavours.”

The Forum included three engaging panel discussions. Topics encompassed the role of community in philanthropy, the impact of private sector engagement, and the importance of empowering women in the field of philanthropy.

To engage with the Pearl Initiative, the Circle network, and to keep abreast with the latest trends in regional philanthropy, please visit and

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