Kuwait Finance House “KFH” released its sustainability report as part of the group integrated sustainability strategy in a major and distinguished event held at the environment friendly KFH Auto show room which is fully compatible with green buildings standards and global sustainability standards. It is the largest auto showroom in the Middle East covering a total area of 38 thousand square meters, said Acting Group CEO at KFH, AbdulWahab Essa Al-Rushood.
Al-Rushood added: “We have included in the sustainability report the elements of environment, society and governance in KFH operations, activity and management along with thorough analysis and measurement of the economic, social and environmental impacts whether on the operational level or the business continuity level to achieve an added value for the shareholders, customers, partners and interests”
He indicated that KFH Group has all the factors to place the bank on the right path of sustainability strategy according to international principles, standards, and frameworks. The group provided services to more than 7.5 million customers as at the end of 2020 in the GCC, Asia and Europe through 530 branches, 1500 ATMs, and 15 thousand employees in the group units in Kuwait, Turkey, Bahrain, Malaysia, Germany, and Saudi Arabia.
Al-Rushood emphasized that sustainability is mostly connected to KFH Group financial performance and inclusivity achieved. He added that KFH issues regular reports showing growth in profit, high liquidity ratios, and solid capital base which enhances business growth and adherence to regulatory requirements. He reiterated that KFH shall continue its endeavour to improve assets quality, develop credit facility policies and governance systems according to the best practices.
He reiterated that KFH is keen on expanding its investment in the green sukuks in the total finance portfolio, namely projects related to the mitigation of the Carbon emissions and climate change risks. He noted that KFH has issued sustainability sukuks of US$ 350 Million to KFH Turkey, participated in the finance of the environment fuel projects for Kuwait National Petroleum Co., finance of major construction projects e.g., LIMAK Co., which is working on the development and expansion of the new terminal in Kuwait International Airport which will render Kuwait as a significant commercial and financial pivot. This contribution shall support the strategic basis of Kuwait in accordance with sustainable development goals.
Al-Rushood said: “We focus mainly on our environmental practices regarding green operations and providing financial and technical advantages to the projects that take into consideration environmental aspects and mitigate emissions. We aim to participate in building a new Kuwait and at the same time play a vital role in driving the wheel of growth, support major local companies and SMEs, enhance business leadership to achieve benefit for the present and future generations. We lay great emphasis on the development of human resources, talents, and youth acquisition. Youth is considered as an integral part of KFH sustainability strategy. We concentrate on attracting talents namely Kuwaiti citizens. The nationalization percentage in the total recruitments process reached 98% - 100% in the last few years. We continue to apply transparency, develop our policies and professional conduct, apply environmental standards, social values, governance, and sustainability as part of the improvement process of employees’ culture and strengthening of the bank principles. Also, we are achieving significant progress in the women enablement and enhancement of its representation in KFH work force in all KFH departments in accordance with the sustainability strategy. Women representation in KFH branches reached more than 40% while it reached more than 48% in “Forsa” programme for the development of distinguished youth.
Financial inclusiviness is one of the sustainability factors. Al-Rushood indicated that KFH has achieved an increase in the No. of new accounts opened by customers. Also, it has facilitated all banking services and products to the persons with special needs. A special branch is allocated for the handicapped in each governorate, comprising adequate car parking, wheelchairs, and other necessary means for the persons with special needs. KFH has provided banking services to customers round the clock through digital solutions. Total digital banking transactions performed by KFH customers through KFHonline approximated 140 million transactions in 2020 i.e. a growth by 18% compared to last year. The No. of digital banking transactions reached 160 million in 2021 i.e., a growth by 25%.
Al-Rushood continued: “Our initiatives to enhance social responsibility, which is a basic element of sustainability, left a great positive impact on society. Our initiatives covered health, human, environmental, youth, sporting, takaful, handicapped, students and other aspects which can be shortlisted as follows:
- Settlement of troubled debts in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice. The amount exceeded KD 20 Million, benefiting nearly 10 thousand troubled debtors. The same initiative was applied in Bahrain through KFH Bahrain”
- The bank has also participated with a major share in the Covid19 Government Relief Fund approximating KD 10 million and made a solo additional contribution to the fund.
- KFH signed an agreement with Kuwait Red Crescent Society to execute relief and medical projects for the Syrian refugees and needy persons in Jordan in cooperation with the Jordan Red Crescent. Also, it signed two agreements with King Hussain Cancer Foundation and the Kuwaiti Red Crescent for the treatment of cancer patients.
- Kuwait – Turk signed an agreement with the Turkish Red Crescent.
- KFH has signed a partnership agreement, first of its kind in the banking sector, with “Kuwait Society for the Welfare of Handicapped” according to which it shall carry out various initiatives including the training of a group of students with special needs in various KFH departments.
- KFH signed memorandums of cooperation with Kuwait University – College of Business Administration and private universities “GUST” to exchange expertise, training, research and student support.
- KFH launched an environment initiative titled “KFH is Green” according to which KFH shall execute several environment initiatives and greening projects.
- KFH made significant contributions to Kuwait Institution for the Advancement of Science, National Manpower support Program, Institute of Banking Studies and other social initiatives which have strengthened KFH pioneering position in the sustainable social development.
At the end of his speech, Al-Rushood conveyed his gratitude and appreciation to KFH team for preparing this report in collaboration with Price Waterhouse Coopers. He affirmed that the significance of the enhancement project of sustainability strategy lies in it being a mean to full fill society and customers needs, enhance profitability and growth, increase performance efficiency, strengthen KFH position as a global leading Islamic Financial Institution. The sustainability report is considered as the core of Islamic banking business and the essence of KFH strategy which is derived from its vision to lead the global Islamic banking, innovate financial products and services and enhance financial inclusiveness.
Group DGM – Public Relations and Media – Yousef Al-Ruwaieh
Group DGM – Public Relations and Media – Yousef Abdullah Al-Ruwaieh conveyed his thanks and gratitude to the audience for their presence and participation in the launching ceremony of the sustainability report as part of KFH Sustainability Strategy.
He added that sustainability has become a fundamental factor in the strategies of organizations and countries, thus emphasizing that KFH is executing initiatives which are compatible with UN sustainable growth goals, Paris Climate Treaty and Kuwait 2035 Vision.
Al-Ruwaieh indicated that on of the main pillars of sustainability is social responsibility, thus emphasizing that KFH has achieved a distinguished and pioneering position in all aspects: environment, health, youth, students, sports, persons with special needs, voluntary work, human deeds, supporting youth projects and other aspects.
He said that KFH has a specialized team of Kuwaiti youth to execute all social initiatives according to certain plans designed in parallel with international sustainability goals. Environment wise, we have launched the KFH Green project, which is considered as an umbrella for all environment initiatives. We have subsidized the establishment of the first Carbon Offset platform to mitigate carbon emissions as part of the sustainability process and the strategic partnership with Sedra initiative and Voluntary Green Dream Team. We have subsidized the first stage of the project comprising the plantation of 500 trees and nursing for 3 years. We have signed strategic partnerships with several entities e.g. Public Authority for Agricultural and Fishery Affairs, to enhance their efforts in the plantation and greening campaign of areas in Kuwait. Also, we have supported the landscaping initiative of the streets and facilities in Capital area in cooperation with Capital Governorate. Also, we have organized beach cleaning campaigns in collaboration with the Public Environment Authority. We were the first institution at the private sector level to collaborate and support the “Agreveg” initiative which is an initiative executed by Kuwaiti youth to transform vegetables and fruits leftovers to an organic fertilizer for the soil.
Al-Ruwaieh added that KFH enjoys a long record regarding students and education. KFH is always keen on participating in the graduation ceremonies of students and foster graduation projects as KFH is considered as the largest subsidizer of students’ graduation projects.
KFH has renewed the memorandum of understanding with Gulf University for Science and Technology, aiming to provide academic and research expertise, internships, youth acquisition. Also, it renewed its strategic partnership with the Australian college in Kuwait. KFH participated in the virtual job exhibition organized by the college and participated in various job opportunities programs to provide employment opportunities to young national talents. Also, KFH signed a partnership agreement with Kuwait University – Business Administration college as part of the support and enhancement programs of Kuwaiti youth abilities to train and qualify 300 Kuwaiti students (males and females) to pass the IELTS test.
Executive Manager – Corporate Governance – Mohammed Al-Arbeed
In this turn, KFH Executive Manager – Corporate Finance – Mohammed Al-Arbeed said: “We have launched last July the sustainability work frame development project which emanates from KFH vision to lead global sharia compliant financial services and upgrade KFH position to be the most profitable and sustainable, and most trusted bank worldwide. The project is an activation of KFH message which aims to achieve the highest levels of innovation and distinction in customer service and the protection and enhancement of common interests with all related parties who have played a significant role in determining the essential issues which they considered as KFH priorities. These issues were determined based on national priorities, regional trends and global practices concerning banking industry. Regarding the 3D sustainability, the initiatives are based on the UN 17 Sustainable Growth Initiatives, Paris Climate Change Treaty 2015 and Kuwait 2035 Vision which aims to transform Kuwait into a global financial and commercial centre to attract investments.
Group Acting DGM – Banking Cards – Talal Al-Arbeed
The Group Acting DGM – Banking Cards – Talal Al-Arbeed said : “Regarding the issuance of banking cards and as part of KFH sustainability initiative “Green Environment” , we have now 5 products of KFH smart plastic cards which are made 85.5% of recycled plastic materials according to global quality and durability specifications and according to the highest environment sustainability standards as recognised and certified by global organizations e.g. Visa, MasterCard and IDEMIA Card Manufacturing Co. as an initial KFH step to adopt sustainability policy.
This industry is the first of its kind in Kuwait covering banking products and green environment friendly initiatives applying the best sustainability practices at the global level.
KFH shall announce during the liberation day celebrations in February the start of the issuance of these cards in different attractive designs carrying the flag of Kuwait.
He indicated that KFH is looking forward to issuing these cards by approximately 30% of total banking cards which shall be issued in 2022. This percentage shall be increased in coming years according to KFH policy in this respect to achieve more sustainability.