Fahim Al Qasimi on helping the economy and making a positive impact
Dubai-dwellers may be familiar with the names The Surf House, Hapi, Parkour DXB and Seafood Souq, a string of charming, local businesses that look to build a sense of community around them. What they are unlikely to be aware is the link behind these home-grown heroes.
“Profits with purpose” is how Fahim Al Qasimi describes it to entrepreneurs looking to invest in local businesses. As a partner at the firm AQ&P he is driving the principle of ‘ESG’—Environmental, Social and corporate Governance, or, in layman’s terms: businesses that make a positive environmental and social impact on their immediate community, and run on business models using best practices. Not only does he want people to help the economy, he wants them to do some social good at the same time.
“Our firm looks to help entrepreneurs succeed in Dubai and the UAE via impact investing, but only if they understand that it is their duty to make a positive impact on their immediate community and the wider world,” he says.
“Today, we’re very fortunate in the UAE that they have identified ESG priorities in sustainability moving forward,” he explains, “I wouldn’t be able to do my job if we didn’t have that awareness already. The exciting part is that we’re going to see more interest in the sustainability sphere, and we are in a position to develop our own framework to help this succeed.”
We sat down with Al Qasimi as part of Esquire’s 10 for the next 10 issue. You can read the whole interview below.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Fahim Al Qasimi, I’m a partner at a firm called ‘AQ&P’, we’re a corporate advisor and investment firm that was formed on the principles of ‘ESG’ – Environmental, social and corporate Governance. So whether we’re investing or advising shareholders, board of directors, or CEOs, it’s formed on an understanding of environmental impacts, social impacts and the importance of governance in those investment positions.
So tell us a bit about the companies you’ve worked with and in what capacity.
I started the firm helping entrepreneurs succeed in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Names you may be familiar with are: ‘The Surf House’, ‘Happy’, ‘Parkour DXB’, ‘Taqarabu Hybrid Communications’. That evolved into an opportunity to start to advise other companies on how we’ve created a huge amount of social impact in the investments we have made.
What is the most rewarding thing about the work you do?
I think you can look on it at two sides, in terms of the rewards we see as investors and advisers, it is the success of entrepreneurs growing their businesses, and on the other side it is that there are profits with purpose. When we look at the environmental sustainability, the social impact and the good governance through the organisation – we’ve helped that person get there.
What do you feel is the most pressing issue of today [in your field]?
One of the most pressing issues in impact investing or in ESG as a theme at the moment is raising the importance that all three themes matter just as much. We here in the UAE are very fortunate that we lead in the environmental sphere, in the social sphere, but our focus recently has been raising the importance of corporate governance. Specifically in the SME sector (Search engine marketing) to make sure people understand that transparency and accountability is paramount to business success.
What is one thing you would like to impact, develop or change over the next 10 years?
Over the next 10 years I firmly believe we’re going to see a lot more companies voluntarily reporting on their ESG strategies, helping their stakeholders, whether investors or shareholders, or the wider community understand that they too have profits with purpose and that they are making a positive impact on their immediate community and the wider world.
Do you feel the region is ready for this?
10 years ago if you were asking me to start an ESG firm, I don’t think the world really understood what that meant. Today, we’re very fortunate in the UAE and the region that they have identified these key priorities in sustainability moving forward. I wouldn’t be able to do my job if we didn’t have that awareness already, the exciting part is that moving forward we’re just going to see more interest in the sustainability sphere.
What excites you most about the future of the industry and the UAE?
I think what excites me most about the industry is we’re writing our own script of ESG and sustainability. Where a lot of people have looked to international benchmarks, what I’m excited about doing is developing our own frameworks, our own basis to which we analyse and advise companies, and create our own model for this as the UAE’s done over the last 47 years.