Background and introduction
The GCC (Gulf Corporation Council) consists of six countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman) in the Middle East and was established in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in May 1981. FBC Gulf (FBCG) is a members association formed with the express mission of helping to enable the continuity and success of GCC family businesses across generations.
Through a variety of special measures and thanks to many years of experience in dealing with this, FBC Gulf are able to help ensure there is no skills drain in family-run businesses, helping to make sure that they will prosper as the business is handed down from one generation to the next, with smooth transitions and minimal disruption.
Family businesses are prevalent across most of the private sectors of the Gulf economies and represent more than 90%of the entire commercial activities in the GCC. Such family businesses also face some unique challenges that must be confronted to help ensure the success of not only the businesses concerned but the GCC as a whole. The reduction in oil revenues along with increased debts as well as the need for diversification are combining to lead to a more challenging and competitive private sector. If they are not careful some family run GCC businesses will come under pressure from international competitors.
What do FBCG do to help?
Through local and regional events, members are given the platform to meet up and exchange concerns, knowledge and contacts with other family businesses in a friendly, safe and confidential setting. There is so much to be gained from such get-togethers as all family run businesses have some areas of overlap and can learn from the experience of others. In addition FBCG organizes receptions, summits and other events in GCC cities that are geared towards enhancing the experience of family businesses, often affording the next generation the opportunities to network and find suitable mentors.
Educating and promoting awareness
It is vital for the prosperity and future of family run GCC businesses that the next generation feel empowered as shareholders, leaders and managers of their family business. This can only be achieved with education at the forefront of any plan of action. FBCG understand this and deliver education through peer association and academic and mentoring initiatives. Of course, this comes back to the exchange of ideas and initiatives through the many meetings and events organized by FBCG which are vital for peer education. In terms of a more structured approach, there are mentorship and experiential activities organized in association with global university partners and family business advisers. FBCG have scholarships and workshops for this. The workshops are specifically designed to give the next generation the necessary tools to confront the challenges that family businesses in the region face going into the future.
FBCG undertake research aimed at providing new and exciting insights and ideas for issues related to family businesses, including governance, strategy, ownership and succession. The research arm of the company works in collaboration with some of the best academics and researchers in the world. Members are given exclusive access to the FBN Xchange Platform, which is an online library where members can find relevant case studies and articles to help with a variety of issues related to family business. One of the most exciting areas of the FBCG research initiative involves the documenting of inspiring family stories including best-practice case studies. This is at the core of the FBCG ethos, which is all about the facilitation of peer-learning and the successful transfer of unique knowledge across generations to ensure continuity and a bright future for family run businesses across the region.