Nearly 200 professionals networked and dined at World Jewish Relief’s annual Business Breakfast this morning at the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel, which raised £70,000 for the humanitarian aid charity.
Guests heard from Tidjane Thiam, who has been Group Chief Executive of Prudential plc, the UK’s largest insurance group, since 2009. He began by praising the work of World Jewish Relief around the world and the contribution of the Jewish community to international development, saying that ‘strong communities form the backbone of successful societies.’
Mr Thiam shared his views on a range of issues from the role of the banking industry in the financial crisis to the influence emerging economies will have on a global recovery. On the former, he commented:
“Banking has been having a bad time and a bad week, no doubt our sector played a central role in the financial crisis but it is important to remember that a strong financial sector is crucial to finding our way out of the crisis.”
He compared the way WJR forms partnerships with local organisations on the ground with the way in which he is expanding Prudential into Asia.
Explaining the expansion, he said:
“Asia has the power, scale and ability to get the world out of trouble. Economic growth comes from productivity and there are huge pockets of this among emerging countries. Specifically for us in China and Indonesia, but these opportunities exist across the world.”
Mr Thiam made particular reference to WJR’s Livelihood Development Programme in Ukraine and Moldova, which offers vocational training and support that gives vulnerable individuals the skills they need to secure employment or open their own businesses. He praised this as an example of a good decentralized business model.
Laurence Gergel, Chair of WJR’s Business Breakfast Committee and long time supporter of the charity, also spoke to guests, introducing an appeal film that highlighted WJR’s incredible achievements over the past year; supporting nearly 30,000 vulnerable Jewish people around the world. He said:
“From Tbilisi to Tallin and from Krakow to Bulawayo, we should be proud of the quite remarkable reach, capacity, technical professionalism and ability that WJR exudes.”