Pearl Initiative

Princess Banderi is a change-maker and philanthropic leader in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For almost two decades, Princess Banderi has been leading and transforming King Khalid Foundation into a preeminent philanthropic institution.

Princess Banderi ushered King Khalid Foundation into a new era of strategic philanthropy that emphasizes impact-based grant making and partnerships with business, government, and the philanthropic community to address and solve the complex challenges of the 21st century. 
She looked for new spaces where there was momentum for innovation and identified places where KKF could use its influence to create systemic change, such as policy changes related to anti-domestic violence; social justice through establishing the sufficiency line; as well as making the nonprofit sector part of the national development strategy.

For the past decade, the Foundation dedicated its resources to building the nonprofit sector, through incubation and acceleration, as the key element and an indispensable condition for sustainable impact. Princess Banderi pushed for changing the mindset of all stakeholders from charity to social and economic development as well as improving key policies. As part of this effort, KKF forged lasting partnerships with Columbia Business School, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ministry of Labor and Social Development, and other institutions.

KKF also pioneered social entrepreneurship in the Kingdom in 2009 and partnered with Acumen Fund early on to identify and train some of the first social entrepreneurs in the Kingdom. The Foundation’s efforts with supporting social entrepreneurship still continue.

Princess Banderi understood the role and importance of helping the private sector build their capacity in corporate responsibility and sustainability in order to improve local communities. KKF is the first and only foundation working in this space since establishing the first King Khalid Award program in the Kingdom in 2008.
Princess Banderi is an advisor to the Minister of Labor & Social Development in charge of creating the National Center for Non Profit Sector Support.

She is also a member of the Al-Nahda Philanthropic Society for Women, The ADHD Society & Support Group (AFTA), The Voice of Down Syndrome Society (Saut).

Princess Banderi holds a BA in English Literature from King Saud University and a MA in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Pearl Initiative

Yousef Alguwaifli is the Deputy Secretary General of the Suliman S. Olayan Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Olayan Group. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia, Yousef is passionate about effective philanthropy and social entrepreneurship.

As an Acumen Global Fellow, he spent a year training in New York and working in India for WaterHealth International, a multinational social enterprise. Before that, Yousef worked at King Khalid Foundation (KKF) in Riyadh, where he led the foundation’s grant-making unit.

He is also a board member of Tasamy, a pioneering Saudi nonprofit focused on advancing social entrepreneurship and innovation in the region.

Yousef obtained his MBA from Clark University in Worcester, MA and a BS degree in Accounting from King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
Pearl Initiative

Habiba Al Mar’ashi is the co-founder and Chairperson of Emirates Environmental Group (EEG), a pioneering organisation based in the United Arab Emirates. She played a key role in the growth of the EEG, which is an active multi-sectoral organisation established in the UAE in 1991. EEG has successfully brought the government, private sector, academia and the community under the same banner. Under her leadership, EEG became the first environmental NGO in the world to receive an ISO 14001 certification in 2001. EEG is also the only organisation of its kind in the GCC, with accreditation with two highly esteemed UN bodies, namely the United Nations Convention to Combating Desertification (UNCCD) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council. EEG is a member of the UN Global Compact and hosted the Local Network for the Gulf States from 2008-2015. EEG is a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 2008. These accreditations ensure the Group’s involvement and participation in international environmental discussions, programmes and campaigns.

Through her leadership, she initiated the first corporate social responsibility (CSR) network in the Arab Region in 2004 as the only multi stakeholder forum with local and multinational entities. She initiated and rolled out the first Corporate Social Responsibility Award for the Arab World.
She was the first Arab woman to become a board member of the UN Global Compact from 2006 to 2013. She was a member of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Stakeholder Council for two terms from 2012 - 2017. Furthermore she was unanimously elected as the global NGO representative to UNEP’s Major Groups Facilitating Committee and served from 2013-2015 inclusive.

Apart from this she is one of the founders of the Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC) and serves as the Vice Chair and Treasurer to the council. Mrs. Al Mar’ashi is also a member of the Membership Committee of the World Green Building Council. Mrs. Al Mar’ashi is also on the advisory committee of the DNV Certification Advisory Board for the Middle East. She is a member of the Patronage Committee of myclimate – an international climate protection organisation based in Switzerland.

Mrs. Al Marashi is involved in many leading initiatives on environment / sustainability, CSR, women and development at the national, regional and international levels. She is a recognised representative and spokesperson for West Asian Arab Women at high ranking international summits. Mrs Habiba Al Mar’ashi is an appointed jury member of several local, regional and international Technical Committees of coveted awards.
Pearl Initiative

Saeed Hersi is currently the Head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Gulf Liaison Office. He is also the former Representative for the Norwegian refugee Council (NRC) to the African Union (AU) HQ in Addis Ababa. He established NRC’s partnership programs with the AU and in the Gulf. Prior to this., Mr. Hersi was managing the NRC relief and recovery program for South & Central Somalia, which provided Shelter, Food Security, WASH, and Education interventions to the IDPs, disaster stricken communities, and host communities.

Earlier and from 2006 to 2008, Mr. Hersi worked in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) as an Education Specialist with UNICEF. During this period, he has been implementing UNICEF’s Education projects together with the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Education in Gaza and West Bank. Hersi has also been with the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, oPt as the Head of Research, Analysis & Information division (RAI). Mr Hersi and through his work in oPt, Somalia, and Chad, developed experiences and knowledge on principled relief operations, protection, humanitarian programming in conflict zone, conflict dynamic, and negotiation/communication.

From 2001 to 2004 Mr. Hersi has been working with the Education Authority in Oslo, Norway as a Pedagogical Psychological Adviser. Mr. Hersi holds a Master of Arts in Pedagogy and concluding his second master in Peace and Security in Africa in the Institute for Peace and Security Studies in Addis Ababa University.
Pearl Initiative

Lina Hourani is the Director of Al Ahli Holding Group CSR Division, since 2008, responsible for several youth development programs and initiatives. The Global Business Opportunities program (GBO) was a major milestone in Lina’s professional path, helping Al Ahli Group to identify business opportunities, develop the entrepreneurial skills for youth, shifting them from being job seekers to job providers. Her success with GBO and also CSR in Action Program – an initiative that brings together students with professionals and CSR Leaders- was spread across 4 different continents benefiting youth from UAE, Jordan, Lebanon, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Greece, Italy, France and the UK.

Prior to that, Lina filled several positions focusing on youth development and training at some of the leading NGOs and institutes in Jordan, including the Royal Health Awareness Society. She also conducted training to more than 2000 senior professional and young leaders in UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Italy, France, UK and USA.
Lina holds a master’s degree in Public Relations and Communications from the University of Westminster in London, a BA in Political Science & French Literature from the University of Jordan and a Diploma in Neuro-Linguistic programming from Canada. She has undergone extensive training, including Leadership, TOT, mind mapping, creativity and is certified as an international trainer on the interpersonal skills segment. She is frequently invited as an expert speaker in regional and international CSR, Entrepreneurship and youth development seminars and programs.

The Swiss Institute for Quality Standards, through its Socrates Committee has nominated Al Ahli Holding Group with the prestigious International Award in Quality and Management Spheres – Best Enterprise. This is a recognition of the Al Ahli excellent business reputation, effective management and constant growth of the enterprise while managing to give back to the society. The head of the enterprise, represented by Lina has received the award of the Best Manager or the Year and a personal certificate. The nomination took place in Montreux, Switzerland in the framework of the International Excellence in Quality annual gathering.
Pearl Initiative

Annina Mattsson is an international development and humanitarian professional with more than 12 years of experience in education and humanitarian assistance. She joined Dubai Cares in February 2016 and has since been responsible for leading the Programs department. Prior to joining Dubai Cares, Annina worked as an independent international development consultant with special focus on monitoring and evaluation. A national of Finland, and a mother of two, she received her Master of Science in Violence, Conflict, and Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).
Pearl Initiative

Lisa Philp, based in Abu Dhabi and New York, serves as the Senior Advisor for Foundation Center (, the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. In this role, she connects donors with data, research, and technology to encourage more strategic and collaborative giving.

Lisa previously served as Managing Director and Global Head of Philanthropic Services for the J.P. Morgan Private Bank, where she supported over $100 million in annual grantmaking by client foundations. Prior to this, she was Program Officer for Youth Development and Education at The Robin Hood Foundation and Director of Communications and Government Relations at Philanthropy New York.

Lisa’s leadership in philanthropy includes past positions as Chair of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, Vice Chair of The New York Women’s Foundation, and board member of Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families. She earned an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and received her B.A. in Asian studies and economics from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Pearl Initiative

Parastou Youssefi is a Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she focuses on global philanthropy and its infrastructure, primarily in emerging donor markets. Previously, Parastou worked with the Mohammed bin Rashid Foundation focused on education and employability, and advised various CSR programs in Dubai. In the past, she worked with women empowerment organizations in the Middle East and West Africa, as well as the United Nations (DESA and Global Compact). She is a graduate of UC Berkeley, studied abroad at the American University in Cairo and received her MPP at Harvard Kennedy School, where she was a Reynolds Foundation Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship.