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Keith Kirkwood (Chairman, GIFT), Ms. Fatima Al-Suwaidi (First Secretary, UAE Embassy Pretoria) and Manna Dabholkar (CEO, GIFT) presenting solar lights to the Champions of Sports for Solar 2021

In 2018, GIFT Global Initiative launched its Global Diplomacy Initiative called Sports for Solar with the aim of educating children about our Environment through the powerful medium of Sports, simultaneously strengthening diplomatic ties between countries by engaging government participation in this unique initiative. In partnership with the UAE embassy in Pretoria, GIFT completed two successful events reaching 4000 households in Soweto, South Africa the settlement which was once home to Nelson Mandela. Prior to this initiative, these 4000 families lived in extreme poverty without sanitation or power. The water looks filthy, and the streets were filled with excrement. Connecting such shantytowns to the electricity grid has been extremely time-consuming, and costly.

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Manna Dabholkar (CEO GIFT) introducing Tennis to the Children in Soweto

This partnership initiative between GIFT and the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Pretoria has not only helped these families access cheap, portable, and clean power to alleviate poverty and increase their quality of life but has done so with year-round sports education for the children.

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The GIFT team with the children in Soweto with Babolat Tennis Kits donated by Babolat

GIFT adopted A World Clean Energy Initiative that aims at providing 100,000 households access to low-cost portable solar energy. This clean energy initiative will expand access to Low-cost, Durable, and Portable Solar Lights to low-income communities across 20 countries. Ms. Manna Dabholkar, CEO of GIFT said, “We invite corporate brands and government embassies to join us on this unique journey of lighting up 100000 households in some of the roughest areas of our planet. For the embassies, this wonderful diplomacy initiative will bridge the gap between the host country and the home country, using sports to build peace and strengthen relationships between countries. Increased capital availability to support social impact prevention and early interventions initiatives can reduce future spending on government remedial programs. For corporations, there is not a better way to increase shareholder value than through socially conscious PR and developing brand loyalty through social impact campaigns such as Sports for Solar.”

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Manna Dabholkar (CEO GIFT) with Ms. Fatima Al-Suwaidi (First Secretary UAE Embassy Pretoria) at the United Arab Emirates embassy in South Africa

GIFT’s unique value adds lies in its Media Wing that adds brand value, positive PR as well as High-Definition Content customized specially for their government as well as corporate partners by their 14 Time Emmy Nominated GIFT Media team. They provide Socially Conscious marketing and advertising content to their donors to increase their shareholder value, build customer loyalty and shine a spotlight on the company’s social cause. After all, Millennials report a greater willingness to pay more for socially responsible products and services. 81% of the millennials also want their favorite companies to make a public declaration of their corporate citizenship.

Keith Kirkwood (Chairman GIFT) with His Excellency Ambassador Mahash Al Hameli, UAE Ambassador to South Africa during their meeting at the UAE embassy in Pretoria

Mr. Keith Kirkwood, Chairman of GIFT said, “Sports for Solar is part of our Diplomacy Initiative and a great example of a successful Private Public Partnership! GIFT puts together Sports events where children compete as a team to win. At the end of the tournament, which typically lasts an entire day, all participants go home with portable solar lights, bringing light to their household, in many places lighting up these communities for the first time. Socially conscious and generous brands such as the tennis giant Babolat see a value in Sports for Solar. Together, we are not only lighting up communities but also introducing and advancing sports such as Tennis and Soccer that could benefit immensely from tapping into large pools of talent in poor communities. This unique program could herald an improved outlook and increased awareness about climate change in every part of our world.”

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Mr. Keith Kirkwood, Chairman of GIFT in the playground with kids during a Sports for Solar event in Africa

For some years now the states of the Persian Gulf have been betting on sport, especially soccer, as a way of asserting a new kind of global presence: cosmopolitan, enlightened, balancing ideas of tradition with their own versions of modernity, in other words projecting soft power. But soccer is just one element in a strategy that includes massive investment in education and culture to strengthen diplomatic ties.

Socially conscious brands such as the tennis giant Babolat and visionary leaders of countries like the United Arab Emirates see tremendous value in Sports for Solar. Together, we are not only lighting up communities but also introducing and advancing sports such as Tennis and Soccer that could benefit immensely from tapping into large pools of talent in poor communities.

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Muzaffar Ahmad Noori Bajwa
Editor in chief of The Eastern Herald. Studied Information Technology and Management. An OSINT Partisan & Political Analyst, Human Rights activist, and Social Activist.

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