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A helping hand: Tamer Group drives human capacity development in Saudi Arabia

Article - May 13, 2013
A leading manufacturer and distributor of pharmaceuticals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Tamer Group is a prime example of how the private sector contributes to human capacity and community development in the country.
Tamer Group traces its origins to 1922, when a young doctor by the name of Mohammed Said Tamer established the Kingdom's first pharmacy in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah. At the time, there was an acute need of medicine in the city for both residents and for the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims that passed through it on their way to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Dr. Tamer created the pharmacy to fill this void and provide a service to the community.
Over nine decades later, the modest pharmacy has expanded to become a leading distributor of pharmaceuticals, medical, food & nutrition, beauty, wellness and prestige products in Saudi Arabia and an important manufacturer of pharmaceuticals. The Group's companies include joint ventures with some of the most prestigious pharmaceutical companies in the world. For instance SAJA, the Saudi Arabian Japanese Manufacturing Company, is  a joint venture with leading Japanese pharmaceutical companies Astellas and Daiichi Sankyo, which are the second and third largest companies of their kind in Japan. Nowadays, Tamer Group is active in three main business lines: medical- the distribution of medical equipment to hospitals and clinics; manufacturing and distribution of pharmaceuticals and distribution of food & nutrition, beauty, wellness and prestige products. Tamer Group companies invest in state of the art medical facilities such as the JCI- accredited  International Medical Centre (IMC) in Jeddah, in the Arab Company for Pharmaceutical Products (Arabio), in the emerging niche of biopharmaceuticals and in the  first biological manufacturing facility in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
But growth and prosperity has not derailed Tamer Group from the spirit of philanthropy and service to the community that characterized it from the very beginning. That spirit continues to this day and pervades all aspects of the group's operations, as Tamer recognizes that human capital is vital to its prosperity and as such is at the centre of its operations, from its commitment towards cultivating its employees to its social programmes. 
According to Group Chairman & Managing Partner Ayman Tamer, “Empowering, training, developing and matching the skills and competencies of the Saudi nationals to the requirements of the job market are key to the success of the economy of this country and of the Tamer Group’s future. The private sector needs to focus its efforts to support the government's programmes of Nationalization and to strive to cover the mismatch in competencies between the educational offering and the practical skills and specializations required in the private sector, particularly when it comes to healthcare.” Mr. Tamer goes on to mention the shortage of Saudi pharmacists in the Kingdom, which is estimated at 30,000 plus, as one of the examples of this mismatch.
Consequently, Tamer Group takes it upon itself to train its employees on the job. Having set up training academies, the Group enhanced the overall performance, job satisfaction and retention rate of new employees thanks to its carefully designed intensive training programme which is co-sponsored by the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF). Hiring and training women is a priority for Tamer Group, as it aims to increase the number of female employees from 60 at the moment to 300 or 10% of its staff, and to encourage them to participate and access leadership positions in the organisation.   
Furthermore, the Group's strategy to develop its human capital includes a scholarship programme to enable employees to pursue higher education and agreements with various universities in Saudi Arabia to recruit trainees and permanent staff. On-going workshops on topics like healthcare and safety and initiatives like staff exercise and health assessment programmes complement the educational and training offering. All these reflect the fact that employees are indeed at the centre of the group's endeavours and help to explain why last year Tamer Group was voted as the second best work environment in Saudi Arabia in Al Eqtisadiah newspaper's annual ranking.
And, while the Group does its part to contribute to community development in the Kingdom, Mr. Tamer would like to see a more concerted effort in this area among private companies. 
“Developing our people requires change, and the attitude towards change in the Saudi business sector remains mixed. Many large companies have understood the need to train and thus empower Saudi nationals, while others remain resistant to change.”

According to him, training centres focusing on the development of soft skills are an important investment opportunity in Saudi Arabia at the moment, and one that would address a pressing need for the locals.  
The initiative that perhaps best illustrates Tamer Group's engagement with the community is its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) platform, SA’AID. The name of the programme means “forearm” in Arabic and symbolizes the part of the body that connects the generous hand, which represents the company, to the community. In English, SA is an acronym for Saudi Arabia, so SA'AID is a concise way to communicate the company's contribution to the well-being of the country. The programme is structured to address five main areas or arms, namely health awareness and education; art and culture; environmental conservation; workplace wellness; and women's empowerment. 
As a leading healthcare group in Saudi Arabia, Tamer Group understands that health education and prevention is a service of utmost importance to the community, given the prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases among an otherwise young population. As such, the group engages the Saudi population through holistic approaches that incorporate technology, social media, and school and community activities. Partnering up with the Ministry of Health, schools, universities, malls and other pharmaceutical companies, Tamer Group works to raise awareness about the effects of lifestyle-related conditions like obesity, diabetes, hypertension and smoking through building sustainable programs, such as healthy education films where SA’AID aims to build a digital library uploaded in the social media and distributed to all public, private hospitals and health care centres. 
Looking ahead, Mr. Tamer would like to see the Group on the path to continued growth, all the while acting as an agent of social development in Saudi Arabia. He also envisions the possibility of branching out into additional business lines to address the needs of the Saudi society, such as the establishment of training centres aimed at developing soft skills. 


Susan Mary Gough
14/05/2013  |  9:26
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Health awareness, education and women's empowerment... what a great contribution this man is making to the country. Very promising!