During these tough times, it is important to consider if we are going to settle down to reflect or step up to help out. Quarantine has opened up many eyes with awe of what life actually is - being with family and friends, realizing yourself, and/or helping out those in need.
When speaking of the third point, there have been many that made this world a better place. Ahmad Melibaev is an Uzbek businessman who has supported frontline doctors and defense teams around Uzbekistan by delivering approximately 8000 meals through his fast-food chains, Les Ailes and Chopar. With the help of his team, he believes that the source of good comes within unity and support. He describes that the initiative was the least they could offer to express their gratitude for doctors' and guards' invaluable work.
Could you tell us about your project and its aims?
It was neither a project nor was it a special offer. It was a genuine desire of my team. We decided in 10 minutes to support doctors with pizzas who are at the forefront fight with COVID-19. At that time, it was only a couple of hospitals and the control center of the Ministry of Health.
We have been delivering them lunches and dinners for several more weeks. We were so delighted that our initiative was supported by our colleagues and other partners in the food industry.
After some time, quarantine tightened. New outbreaks surged. More than a hundred emergency teams were at the frontline battle with coronavirus in our city. We decided to support them as well with tea, coffee, and meals. Our partners have helped us immensely in this by investing financially in this initiative.
I was a volunteer and was also quarantined because I flew to Ferghana just prior to the closure of flights. Whilst all these events occurred, I noticed that we only support doctors when there is another invisible group at the frontlines. These people are from the National Guard, Internal Affairs, and Defence. Common, ordinary youth that is always on guard. After consulting with the team, we decided to support them as well.
All of these are simple decisions driven by the desire to help. I believe that everyone has done and is doing everything possible in this current situation. I am glad that the team and I were able to work together, standing shoulder by shoulder, to achieve this initiative. It means a lot to me.
How did you carry out your project to fit the conditions of social distance during quarantine?
Please, let’s not call this a project; I insist.
When delivering food to doctors and guards, we abided by all the same safety measures that we follow when delivering food to our clients of Les Ailes and Chopar - sealed packing, minimum contact of the courier with the product, full personal protection for our couriers, and health and safety measures in the kitchen.
How did the community react to this initiative?
When delivering pizza, we were afraid to disturb the doctors at work to which we decided to leave everything at reception. We never expected anything in return and to be honest, we weren’t planning on any publications about this. You cannot possibly imagine how delighted and inspired we were when seeing the thankful video response from our heroes. People started sharing the video, and the photos captured told the story by itself. It was highly unexpected. But the most exceptional part about it was that our actions helped encourage others in helping and supporting the doctors.
Being united is the only outcome that we can thank quarantine for. I have noticed the fruitful cooperation of people helping each other; businesses and governments helping one another in order to support other cities and countries.
Do you have any advice for other local businesses on how to support the community during these tough times?
You can’t recommend or not recommend support. It should be a genuine initiative.
But one thing I am definitely sure of is that if we don’t support people now by following our values then there’s no point working further on. The market has changed. I am happy that the values of my company and the whole team were the basis that helps overcome the difficulties faced every day. I truly believe we will be able to get past any troubles only when we are united.
What can the private sector continue on from this initiative post quarantine?
With regard to the social corporate responsibility, I think that in this situation everyone acts based on their tasks, values, and priorities. For me, everything was always based on the people. Post quarantine, I will continue to invest in people especially those who are a part of my team. With all my might, I will try to provide constant support to the community. Good initiatives have been accomplished by us in the past but to be frank, I would rather keep it private. However, I noticed that transparency during quarantine can greatly inspire others to continue on these kinds of initiatives.
We will carry on our values as a team to fully embrace the support of those in need.
Talking about a business and it’s future after quarantine is a bit complex as we are facing a tough period. With this in mind, we are currently preparing ourselves for the worst. In my opinion, I believe that the focus of a business should be reassessed; looking more towards testing its efficiency and reliability. And to also evaluate the benefit it brings to people. Owing to the crisis, which will always remind us of what’s most important. People - the most important asset of life.