Past Programmes


Economic sanctions have  severely impacted Iran’s  economy including its agricultural sector in terms of infrastructure, technology and access to markets. The most vulnerable in Iranian society  have been the hardest hit and Iran’s smallholder farmers are no exception.

GIFT’s first Global Leaders programme in the Middle East included a field project in Iran which saw global executives from a dozen countries apply their leadership skills in an experiential context and produce a business plan to help agricultural communities take advantage of international expertise and the opportunities presented by the  imminent lifting of sanctions.

At the invitation of local government including the Esfahan Mayor’s office and Chamber of Commerce, participants on the GLP travelled to Esfahan city and the nearby Semirom region which is famed for its apples, widely considered to be the best tasting in the Middle East. Working in close collaboration with the Semirom Farmers Union and the Esfahan Union of Agricultural Producers and Exporters the group proposed recommendations for improving the lot of the farmers and the creation of a new company which would create social as well as financial returns and improve livelihoods among Semirom’s apple farming communities.


The Hong Kong Young Leaders Programme (YLP), the first of its kind, is an initiative supported by the HKSAR Government’s Efficiency Unit and the Hong Kong Jockey Club. The YLP provided 22 young local professionals from the government, forward-thinking companies and civil society an opportunity to put their leadership skills to the test and play a pioneering role in the creation of vibrant communities in the city through sustainable sports hubs.

The programme has been designed as a platform to inspire a new precedent of constructive dialogue and ideas, and to promote cooperation and collaboration across sectors. During the programme the participants met with various stakeholders including government departments, district offices, sports clubs and associations, potential operators and others. The business model proposal was presented at a public forum to a cohort of more than 200 audience at the end of the programme.

Check out the Executive Summary and the presentation that were presented at the forum.




Mainstreaming bioplastics in China

Wuhan, China, 22 June - 3 July 2015

Bio-based plastic is emerging as a sustainable alternative to everyday plastic which is traditionally derived from fossil fuels. Produced primarily from renewable sources bioplastics has a lower carbon footprint, reduces oil dependency and is eco-friendly.

The Wuhan Huali Environmental Technology Co., Ltd (Huali) is China's largest starch-based plastic producer and the second largest globally. It was founded in 2000 by Zhang Xianbing, a former teacher, civil servant and successful real estate businessman. With oil prices at an all time low it faces tepid market demand and stiff competition from traditional plastic. A 25 member international team of seasoned executives representing over 15 different organisations and 10 distinct functional expertise travelled to Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province for the 41st Global Leaders Programme and presented Huali with a strategic business plan to grow its domestic business and regain competitiveness.

For a summary of the programme check out the programme round-up.


Huali Logo


Located off the southern coast of India in South Asia, the tropical Island of Sri Lanka has the physical infrastructure and financial indicators of a developing country. Although per capita income has doubled since 2005 to US$3,380 economic progress was stalled for 30 years due to a long and bitter civil war which only ended five years ago. Sri Lanka’s social indicators however, from a life expectancy of 74 to literacy rates of 98 per cent, are comparable with those of a developed nation. It is the only South Asian country to rank “High” on the Human Development Index. Basic healthcare and education through tertiary level are free for all (although competition for university places is fierce).

But for the 10-13 million Sri Lankans living at the base of the economic pyramid the social safety nets are insufficient if the breadwinner falls ill or natural disasters strike. Micro-insurance addresses this need and was the focus of the field project for GIFT’s 40th Global Leaders Programme (GLP) during which participants worked closely with leading local conglomerate the LOLC Group to support the expansion of its fledgling micro-insurance business.

For a summary of the programme check out the programme Round-Up and Photo Story.


Affordable housing for underserved communities in Indonesia

Indonesia, 26 January - 6 February 2015

The world’s fourth largest country and home to over 250 million people, Indonesia, is facing a housing crisis of epic proportions. Rapid urbanisation and poor urban planning and policy-making has resulted in a shortage of 15 million affordable houses for the 91 per cent of Indonesians who are classified as low-income. Successive governments have tried many fixes including building high-rise towers and subsidizing mortgages for the poor but the backlog continues to grow by approximately 600,000 units every year.

During the third annual BASF Sustainability Drives Future Business Programme facilitated by GIFT, 25 global managers from 14 countries in Asia, Europe and the Americas first convened in Hong Kong for dynamic classroom sessions where they explored issues including the impacts of globalisation, the reshaping of capitalism and the role of business in society. During the experiential component of the programme participants travelled to Greater Jakarta to work on a field project connected to the provision of affordable housing.

In Indonesia the group took part in site visits hosted by BASF’s supporting partner and one of the country’s leading property developers, Ciputra. They met with stakeholders including urban planners, mortgage lenders and representatives from the Ministry of Housing and Real Estate Developers Association, as well as NGOs involved in the provision of low-income housing and residents themselves.

Over the course of the programme participants produced recommendations for the establishment of a new low-income social investment fund dedicated to funding land acquisition, mortgages for the unbanked and SMEs involved in the design and manufacture of affordable housing construction materials. They also proposed a new quasi-governmental agency to act as an affordable housing authority and essentially be the operational arm of the fund. These recommendations were presented to an audience which included Management of BASF Indonesia, Ciputra, DBS Bank and the Vice Chair of the Real Estate Developers Association.


The provision of electricity alone is not enough to improve livelihoods and break the cycle of poverty. A rethinking of rural electrification is required. This was the challenge undertaken by over 30 professionals from 20 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe who participated in GIFT’s Global Leaders Programme (GLP) in December 2014, conducted in Lao PDR in partnership with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific (ESCAP) and the country’s Ministry of Mines and Energy (MEM).

ESCAP is pioneering an initiative called Pro-Poor Public Private Partnerships (5P) to tie electrification more closely to increasing economic activity and improving livelihoods. The model works to establish renewable energy utilities through public and private sector investment which include communities as key stakeholders. It is based on a small-scale hydro utility in Indonesia which is co-owned by the local community and was established by previous GIFT partner IBEKA.  The GLP participants were tasked with producing recommendations for how public policy and private sector expertise could be combined to support rural electrification and promote rural enterprise development in Lao PDR and the wider region.

For a summary of the programme check out the programme Round-Up and Photo Story.


UNESCAP 5P, projects funded by