In crisis zones, investing in purpose and impact drives organizational resilience and growth

By Nabil Hayel Saeed Anam

Communities around the world are facing some of the most tumultuous, disruptive and tragic events in generations.

In this time of global uncertainty, when capitalism is under pressure and corporate emphasis on shareholder return is under intense scrutiny – and organizations, their customers and employees are daily faced with instability and complexity – businesses have a moral imperative to respond.

This response must take the form of meaningful investments in people, products and places that will both address immediate challenges and generate long-term positive outcomes for the communities the companies serve.

This approach is not new to many organizations operating in fragile environments, where populations often rely on private sector organizations to respond in times of crisis, especially in one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world today. .

Since 2014, when civil war broke out in Yemen, the conflict has inflicted a devastating impact on the economic and social fabric of the country. It has often been left to the private sector to respond to crisis and sustain livelihoods.

By operating in one of the most complex environments in the world, Yemeni businesses have learned to adapt quickly and respond effectively to changing circumstances, and emerge stronger. They also learned to quickly identify ways in which businesses can contribute to society in times of great upheaval.

Successful companies and business leaders often prioritize the “three Ps”: people, processes and products. But in crisis environments, a fourth “p” – purpose – must cover this approach if organizations are to function and support communities that depend on their essential goods and services. These organizations must invest in a range of innovative initiatives and form partnerships with like-minded organizations to realize this vision.

Targeted product innovation

In crisis zones, companies should take a proactive approach to research and development (R&D) to anticipate how product innovation can meet the changing needs of local populations who need support the most.

HSA Group, in partnership with the World Food Programme, has adapted the blend of ingredients from our leading food and beverage brands to increase the nutritional value of our biscuits, flour and ghee products. We have also introduced innovative packaging to increase the shelf life of our products, to preserve products in an environment where conflict often disrupts the supply of basic necessities.

Investing in the workforce of tomorrow

When a crisis hits, businesses need to consider significant disruptions to the lives of their customers and employees. An organization must ensure that it supports its workforce personally and professionally in times of uncertainty.

Taking a holistic approach to rewarding and developing talent can help an organization both support its people in times of turmoil and develop skills that will serve them well after emerging from a period of conflict.

Applying a long-term approach to investing in our people, HSA Group has retained and developed our workforce through both short-term and long-term measures, providing free private health insurance to employees who cannot access to basic health care due to the significant disruption. to Yemen’s public health system and in partnership with SAP to launch a program for recent Yemeni graduates to obtain an internationally recognized technology certification that will expand our organizational capabilities.

Process to build resilience

In times of crisis, organizations need to preemptively invest in infrastructure and internal processes to ensure operational resilience. The ongoing conflict in Yemen has continually compromised its information technology (IT) and telecommunications infrastructure, often disrupting the core of our organization.

In response, HSA Group worked with our global technology partners, such as Microsoft, SAP and Cisco, to deploy new systems, enabling critical business units to make data-driven decisions at a time when our operations were under stress. sustained pressure. Through investments in technology and processes, we have maintained business continuity and ensured that our essential products reach even the most remote communities in Yemen.

Goal-oriented investment strategies, both external and internal, unlock the important role companies play in the lives and livelihoods of our customers and employees. Despite the turmoil of the horrific humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and in line with our values ​​as a family business, integrating purpose into our focus on people, processes and products in this most complex landscape has been key to enabling growth and integration to our success and challenges any assumption that companies operating in crisis zones are less inclined to pursue ethically driven sustainable strategies.

Investing in purpose not only drives organizational growth; it also makes capitalism work for everyone. In the long term, we hope and believe that this approach will enable the future prosperity of economies and communities across Yemen and ensure the success of impact-driven organizations for generations to come.


Learn more about the HSA group working to support sustainable development in Yemen.


Nabil Hayel Saeed Anam is a Board Member of HSA Group and Managing Director of HSA Group–Yemen Region. HSA Group, a family conglomerate established in Yemen in 1938, is the largest company in Yemen and operates throughout the MENA region. It is now one of the largest multinationals based in the Middle East.

Aubrey L. Morgan