Stars Orbit Consultants and Management Development (SOC) is a private consulting firm that prides itself for working with UN and global agencies, governmental entities, NGOs and civil society organizations. SOC provides operational and technical support in several fields including:
Evaluation and Assessment
Conducting End-line and Baseline Surveys
Data Collection and Analysis
Assistance in Project Management
Assistance in Logistics
Assistance in Human Resources
SOC was established in 2007, with a core mission of providing expert consulting services, high-quality assistance, research and data, and the most appropriate solutions to assist different stakeholders, particularly UN agencies, international organizations, and the nonprofit sector at large in successfully implementing their projects and programmes, and achieving their desired goals.
In times of crisis, these projects had a direct impact on the lives of millions of marginalized and vulnerable citizens, including refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), women and children, and ethnic and religious minorities, as they constituted a main pillar for humanitarian relief. At the same time, SOC mandate is not limited to the humanitarian field, with the firm’s experts extending their support to initiatives of a development nature, with sustainable and long-term objectives.
Over the period of 16 years, SOC has been heavily involved in around 400 projects throughout Iraq, Jordan, Yemen, KSA, Kuwait, and Bahrain, working at the governorate, district, city and local levels. Today, SOC has become a key player in humanitarian interventions, post-conflict initiatives, and recovery efforts implemented in the region, particularly in Iraq.
When working in conflict settings and environments that are sensitive politically, it is critical to apply the highest degrees of professionalism, compassion, and impartiality. Thanks to our experience and lessons learnt and shared with our partners, SOC has developed a set of ethical guidelines that governs its work. These guidelines have earned us an internationally renowned reputation that we are proud of, and a growing local and regional trust from different stakeholders, including the population in question. Through those strict guidelines, we do not only guarantee the highest professional standards, accuracy, and inclusiveness, we also aim to allow our partners and collaborators to make the best of the process itself, whether a research, a project assessment, or an event.
Strict guidelines and contextual understanding have a special significance for institutions operating in conflict zones and politically sensitive environments. Such considerations are critical to creating a safe and ideal working environment, and make sure that security aspects are taken into account when planning/implementing any type of activity on the field. To this end, SOC has put in place Risk Management Procedures involving several components, such as:
Working in complex and sensitive environments requires a high level of cultural and political awareness, as well as special approaches to implement any activities and achieve the desired goals while avoiding or limiting any negative impacts in the process.
In this context, SOC developed strict guidelines known as “Do No Harm” (DNH) policies to protect all the parties involved. Those policies guarantee confidentiality, consent, and responsibility, and minimize any potential risks that may result from the data collection and analysis process, as well as the harm inadvertently caused throughout field activities on participants, researchers, and stakeholders. SOC considers that the application of the DNH policies is a minimum obligation for any implementation in a conflict context in which it consciously looks for and seeks to avoid or mitigate adverse impacts.
For instance, when working with refugees, IDPs, and returnees, SOC highly considers existing tensions with host communities, and among different factions of this same community.
DNH is designed in a way to avoid exposing beneficiaries to any risks amounting from actions performed by SOC and its partners. It allows SOC to deeply analyze, look at the broader context, and mitigate any potential negative effects on the social fabric, the economy, and the environment.
Conflict sensitivity is the practice of understanding how aid interacts with conflict in a particular context (community, district, province, region) with the aim to mitigate unintended negative effects and to influence conflict positively where possible.
This policy is a result of a conflict analysis that SOC performs on a regular basis in selected areas, aiming to allow project managers to take informed decisions when implementing related activities.
In addition to the general context that the analysis process provides on a particular conflict (its background, groups involved, each group’s perspective, and identifying causes of conflict), it is characterized by its dynamic nature, since it is updated at every opportunity and as needed.
SOC issues studies and reports, and provides awareness sessions to its partners to better understand the setting they are working in, equipping them with all the needed knowledge in terms of social and political contrasts that they may face when designing and implementing any program or activity.
As a firm believer and advocate for environment friendly practices, SOC places environment-friendly practices and policies at the heart of its priorities and activities. In line with our strong belief that environmental concerns should be incorporated into all sectoral guidelines/manuals, we work on developing these policies continuously, and thanks to our efforts, we are today one of the regional pioneers in this field.
The SOC environmental policy is based on several pillars that have proven to be very efficient, and that are expanding in type and nature, thanks to their tangible and mutual benefits on a small business scale and a more global scale.
Those practices are three-folded and take multiple dimensions:
SOC is committed to applying gender equality in the broad sense, including equality of opportunity, rights, distribution of resources and benefits, responsibilities for women and men in private and public life, and the value accorded to male and female characteristics. We consider the application of the gender equality criterion as an essential principle in our development and successful operation.
Since our foundation, we have incorporated gender equality at the core of our internal operation model. With a 50/50 gender proportion at the workplace, the application of gender equality is not only a global principle that we are committed to, but also a source of inspiration and creativity that gives SOC a major added-value in the accurate contextualization, design and implementation of programs and events. Currently, 50% of our staff are women.
In this same context, on the internal level and when possible, SOC supports women-owned businesses and programs focused on empowering women through its procurement efforts, while also encouraging its partners to adopt the same approaches.
When the conditions allow it, SOC adopts an inclusive approach that considers gender equality in terms of participants and beneficiaries in programs and events that it holds and organizes as a third party, in partnership with other organizations.