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Pyramid Vision

Increasingly, business leaders influence and set the political and economic agendas. They want to change the world

By Stuart Crainer . 01 June 2007

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Inspirationally, Fadi Ghandour is already doing so. Stuart Crainer reports.


CK Prahalad’s The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid is among the business books of recent years which have helped establish a new agenda for individuals, corporations and entire nations. Others include Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat and, closer to home, Charles Handy’s The New Philanthropists. While their themes and emphases differ, the links between the books are surprisingly clear: business is truly global and requires new ways of thinking about wealth, the distribution of wealth and the business and entrepreneurial potential of those with the least wealth.


Corporate Social Responsibility


Some organizations have chosen to interpret these themes as Corporate Social Responsibility, a term in danger of being consumed by saccharine public relations rather than celebrated by real achievements. “CSR in the UK today is too often a problematic concept, not one that offers an inspirational agenda for change,” observed Craig Smith and Halina Smith in the Spring issue of Business Strategy Review. The executives involved in their research predicted that, by 2015, the term CSR could be dead in the UK.


The reality is that the canvas has broadened beyond CSR. Prahalad, Friedman and Handy, in their different ways, are testimony to this change. Increasingly, CSR appears as a collection of isolated initiatives rather than a passionately-held, life-enhancing, world-changing vision. The people leading the charge are business leaders like the Jordanian, Fadi Ghandour, visionaries with hard-headed business experience.


Parcel-force


Ghandour’s business story began in 1981. At the time, FedEx was in its business infancy rather than being a fixture in the English language. The Middle East courier market was dominated by a single company, DHL. Competition was limited to nonexistent. Ghandour saw the opportunity to create the FedEx of the Arab-world.


While this was a neat theory, it was handicapped by the billions required to create a brand and infrastructure. Ghandour’s solution was brilliant in its simplicity. He approached the big American companies, such as FedEx and UPS, and offered to cover the Arab world on their behalf. So, rather than handing the work to their competitor, DHL, the industry giants paid Ghandour’s company, Aramex, to ensure their deliveries to the Middle East arrived on time.


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