The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) has launched a free delivery initiative of organic foods to support more than 1,000 families in need in Sharjah, throughout the period of night-time curfew, announced by the government as a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Shurooq has launched the initiative in association with the Sharjah Charity International and VeggiTech, a vegetation technology start-up in Sharjah to deliver 6,200 kgs of fresh organic produce to families in need in the emirate. This is being done in compliance with the UAE’s health, safety and preventative measures, and as mandated by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“The initiative reflects on Shurooq’s role in supporting the country’s preventive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, and also reinforces our social responsibility towards the communities we serve,” says Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal, executive chairman of Shurooq. “Thanks to the wise leadership of the UAE, and the inspiring directives and measures undertaken by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, our objective was to contribute to the growing efforts made by our nation to ensure that all communities and families know that we are here for them, for their well-being and for their loved ones.”
How did you identify which families need the supplies the most?
Al Sarkal: We have worked very closely with Sharjah Charity International to identify the families in need and in critical situation. Along with VeggiTech, we are doing our part to offer these families organic, healthy foods, while encouraging them to stay at home.
What kind of vegetables are included in the 6,200 kgs of fresh organic produces?
Al Sarkal: A lot of vegetables are included, particularly those that are used on a daily basis. Importantly, we want to encourage these families – and eventually beyond – to adopt a healthy, immune-boosting diet – now while staying at home as well as in the future.
Have you collaborated with a fulfilment company to do the free delivery?
Al Sarkal: Our own employees at Shurooq are engaged in this initiative. A section of our employees has volunteered to do door-to-door delivery in a clean, sanitised and contactless manner. This is our way of giving back to the society and community – which is a big part of Shurooq’s vision.
How are you supporting VeggieTech as a start-up?
Al Sarkal: We believe in VeggiTech’s potential to not only become a much bigger organic farm in Sharjah but across the UAE. VeggiTech has shown its potential to scale up through use of superior technology, research and development capability and ability to produce various kinds of organic foods all-round the year through vertical farming. Importantly, VeggiTech has the ability to deliver a farm-to-kitchen experience, which has become vital.
Are you supporting any other start-up like VeggiTech?
Al Sarkal: We are very keen to support many more start-ups like VeggiTech. We are totally committed to empower and support new entrepreneurs. Our subsidiary, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) led by Najla al Midfa starts the incubation and mentorship process and then we step in to support start-ups that are keen and have shown potential to scale up.
Within Shurooq, what are you doing for your employees’ health, well-being and financial security?
Al Sarkal: We started working from home around two weeks ago, except some employees in the finance and purchase departments who are partially working from office on a need basis. Over the past two weeks, we have realised that virtual meetings are engaging and productive and that our employees are responsible to deliver their commitments. We have also started online courses to help them learn some new skills. We are encouraging them to stay active, but at home. Health and well-being of our employees are foremost priority for us and they are all being taken care of as part of the bigger UAE government initiative around COVID-19. Besides, all our employees are insured. On the financial front, we have not reduced salaries but we are encouraging employees to take some time off only to de-stress. We are firmly committed to not make anyone redundant at this tough time. After all, it’s a tough time for everyone; and we are in it together.