Family-owned businesses are uniquely placed to shape the fourth industrial revolution to ensure it is empowering and human-centered, rather than divisive and dehumanizing, Badr Jafar, Chief Executive Officer of Crescent Enterprises and Managing Director of the Crescent Group, told delegates at a public session titled ‘The Family Business Case’ at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Other panelists included Andre Hoffmann, Vice Chairman of pharmaceuticals giant Roche, and Lubna Olayan, Chief Executive Officer of Olayan Financing Company.

Badr Jafar stated in an opening address that “family businesses are the epitome of human commerce, and tend to be deeply connected to our employees, stakeholders and communities. Our stakeholders know us and the values that we represent. Therefore the key to being successful and sustainable in the era of this technological revolution will be to leverage these natural advantages while being realistic about the things we need to change about ourselves.”

According to the Family 500 Index, the world’s 500 largest family businesses produce $6.5 trillion per year in sales and employ over 21 million people – enough to make them the third largest economy in the world behind the US and China. In the Middle East and North Africa region, 85 per cent of non-oil GDP is generated by family businesses that are set to hand down assets totaling more than $1 trillion to the next generation within the next ten years.