Methanex Egypt has been running a robust social responsibility program since the company began operations in Damietta in 2011. Over the years, the company has been committed to making a difference to its neighboring communities, through a focus on social investment in health, education, empowerment, and training. In 2019, Methanex decided to do a shift in the way it approached social responsibility to ensure more mature initiatives are implemented that can help build a more sustainable future for the community.

ILO-Methanex Partnership

In 2019, Methanex signed a partnership with the United Nations’ International Labor Organization (ILO); a key milestone in the company’s sustainable development journey, aligning its Social Investment strategy with Egypt’s Vision 2030 and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by extending the full-scale of the ILO’s Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People (DJEP) project to Damietta addressing one of Egypt’s most pressing challenges, that of youth unemployment and underemployment. The project would enable the creation of over 500 jobs in Damietta over the course of the project through a $1,000,000 donation to the ILO.

The ‘Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People– Tackling the Challenge in Damietta’ project aims to build on the wealth of experience and success of the ILO Canadian-funded DJEP project to create decent employment opportunities for youth in the governorate of Damietta, through promoting entrepreneurship and facilitating job matching processes. In addition to building capacities of local partners on the ground for improved services to support unemployed youth and job matching processes, the project will address key cross-cutting themes including occupational safety and health (OSH), the inclusion of people with disabilities and gender mainstreaming.

Through this agreement, Methanex, in partnership with ILO, will deliver four of the DJEP project main programs, these are: Get Ahead Program for Women in Enterprise, Start and Improve Your Business, Job Search Clubs and Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Technical Schools.

Get Ahead for Women in Enterprise

Get Ahead for Women in Enterprise program is designed to promote enterprise development among low-income women, who want to start or are already involved in small-scale business.

The program addresses women’s practical and strategic needs by strengthening their basic business and people management skills. The program also helps women develop their entrepreneurial traits and obtain support through groups, networks, and institutions that deal with enterprise development. Through the program, Methanex managed to successfully train 294 women from Damietta so far.

Methanex Egypt also provided the Get Ahead for Women in Enterprise Training the Trainers (ToT) program which offered the training to women from Damietta in collaboration with the National Council for Women (NCW) to ensure the sustainability of the program in the future by trainers from the community.

Start and Improve Your Business

Partnering with ILO and Egypt’s Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA), Methanex also provides the Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) program. The training program focuses on launching small businesses as a means to create more and better employment to young men and women in the community, thus narrowing the unemployment gap in the Damietta.

The SIYB program aims to enable potential entrepreneurs to develop concrete, feasible and bankable business ideas to start their own small business. By the end of the training, these potential entrepreneurs will have completed a basic business plan that will serve as a blueprint for starting up their businesses. So far, the program trained 238 people in Damietta.

Job Search Clubs

Another key ILO DJEP program, conducted in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports, is the Job Search Clubs. This program provides an enriching environment where young people gather and share resources and contacts while searching for jobs in various fields under the supervision of trained facilitators. The program plays a major role in bettering youth chances of employment as well as providing them with intensive coaching on job hunt skills.

By employing specific methodologies, the program allows the youth to engage in searching for jobs, find means to seek hidden job markets, create a support group for individuals with similar needs, and build a network that cultivates successful job hunting. Such methods help job hunters find suitable employment in a short time. So far, the program trained 109 people in Damietta.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Technical School Teachers

In alignment with Methanex commitment to investing in education and in line with its sustainable approach, Methanex Egypt is also planning to raise awareness about entrepreneurship among the youth in Damietta through a program centered and focused on training teachers and trainers in vocational and technical schools through an innovation and entrepreneurship curriculum delivered as part of a partnership between the ILO and the Egyptian Ministry of Education, funded through DJEP Methanex.

ICSB Award

As a result of its myriad initiatives and projects that had a tangible positive impact on its surrounding communities, in 2019, Methanex Egypt received the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) Humane Entrepreneurship Award, presented at the UN HQ in New York, in recognition of its contribution to the enrichment of micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) culture in Damietta. The award is given by the ICSB to organizations that successfully attain business excellence, while also making a positive impact on their communities. It also offers the award to businesses that are able to harmonize economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection together and meet at least one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Moving Forward

The ILO Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People in Damietta project remains active as one of Methanex’s social investment projects as it has recently launched its first activity for 2021 in March through the Business Development Services (BDS) clinic. The BDS clinic was a result of collaboration between the ILO, MSMEDA, and the Chamber of Wood Working & Furniture Industries (CWWFI). Through the clinic, the SIYB beneficiaries from 2018 until 2020 were provided with free consultation and sessions to assess their projects’ status, understand factors affecting their performance, and provide solutions to the challenges they face ensuring the sustainability of their projects beyond the initial training provided to them. Methanex is currently preparing new intakes of the different training programs under its ILO funded project to empower more individuals from the community building on its successful partnerships with the different local entities and authorities that have positively impacted the program delivery over the past couple of years.