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New Corporate Citizenship Association To Focus on the Middle East and Africa

Submitted by: Ishtirak

Categories: Community Development

Posted: Oct 21, 2003 – 12:00 AM EST


Oct. 21 /CSRwire/ - SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Visible Hand, Inc., a boutique strategy consulting firm dedicated to corporate-community partnership, and independent research institute SRI International, a world leader in economic development consulting and analysis, announced today the formation of Ishtirak, a non-profit business association dedicated to helping Western corporations address complex social issues in the Middle East and Africa. Ishtirak, which means "partnership" in Arabic, is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The first such organization of its kind, Ishtirak bundles the services of member companies in the areas of emerging market strategy and risk analysis, stakeholder negotiation, organizational vetting, and culture-specific communication. Ishtirak provides economic and social engagement tools for multinational corporations in a volatile and complex region.

In addition to SRI and Visible Hand, Ishtirak's members include CSRwire, the leading corporate social responsibility news and report service, Innovative Resources Management, a pioneer in stakeholder negotiation, Cune Press, a small press facilitating artistic and cultural exchange between the West and the Middle East, and design firm Sakkal.com. Affiliates include The Corporate Citizen Group of Dallas, and several Middle Eastern NGOs.

In addition to its role in providing project design and consulting, Ishtirak produces case studies and reports on technical and social issues of relevance to creating sustainable corporate-community partnerships, written by recognized experts. The studies will be published in electronic and print form by Cune Press of Seattle (www.cunepress.com).

"The problem of declining American image - corporate and otherwise - in the Muslim world is one that, unfortunately, isn't going away any time soon", says Ethan Chorin, a former Shell Oil strategist and Visible Hand founder. "But the multinational is not a passive element in this process. If a company helps train developing country nationals to perform competent environmental impact assessments, it is increasing this country's capability to shape its own future. A community with access to basic health care and education is a community of future clients and customers."

Ishtirak unites a group of top-flight organizations, each a leader in one key component of the growing field of corporate social responsibility. Visible Hand, Inc. the founding member of Ishtirak, received seed funding from the Shell Oil Company in 2001.

"Within the Ishtirak framework," says David Gutelius, SRI Project Manager, "These five firms are able to offer technical coverage and a depth of cultural understanding that is greater than the sum of the parts. First and foremost, we are development professionals with decades of collective experience in the energy sector. Second, we are experts in Middle Eastern and African cultures and languages and how to create enduring corporate social responsibility programs in the developing world. Third, we understand how things get done in a corporate environment, where the interests of communities and corporations coincide, and how they may best be approached."

When Ishtirak takes on a client, it tailors its services, and the composition of the team, to the client's specific regional needs. Ishtirak is able to offer a team of the highest calibre people, often at substantial cost savings over what it would cost to hire a single Big Five management consultant.

"By its very construction, Ishtirak is an exercise in consensus building," notes Danielle Mendiburu, Ishtirak Assistant Director. "If you are thinking about entering the Middle East or Africa - or are already there - you want Ishtriak on your side. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure."

For more information, please contact:

Ethan Chorin Visible Hand/Ishtirak
Phone: +1-510.502.0936


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