SEKEM: A Holistic Egyptian Initiative
After living in Austria for 21 years, Ibrahim Abouleish returned home to Egypt to do something about the difficulties he observed during visits. In 1977, he founded the Sekem initiative to promote social and environmental development through economic and cultural activities.
Sekem’s group includes eight companies: Libra for farming, Mizan for organic seedlings, Hator for fresh fruits and vegetables, Lotus for herbs and spices, Isis for organic foods and beverages (bread, dairy products, oils, spices and tea), Conytex for organic cotton and textile fabrics, Atos for pharmaceuticals and Ecoprofit (still under establishment) for sustainable management. Sekem’s efforts have contributed to the Egyptian community—economically, socially and culturally.
Agreements helped to develop a continuous mutual interaction among farmers, producers, and traders to deliver the highest quality products to consumers. Examples of these partnerships have included the following:
• Sekem has signed an agreement with the North Africa Enterprise Development Facility to help strengthen Sekem’s supply chain linkages. The company’s new supply chain management solution has enhanced Sekem’s communication and collaboration with small- and medium-sized farm suppliers, improved efficiency and production forecast accuracy, and substantially increased sales revenue for the small- and medium-sized farmers.
• Sekem’s involvement with the International Association of Partnership, which is a forum established amongst organizations from different countries that are interested in organic agriculture, has helped Sekem market its products internationally.
• In cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, in the field of agricultural research,especially in plant protection of the cotton plant, Sekem adopted an innovative technique to shield the cotton plant. A direct result of this action was the landmark achievement of reducing the use of synthetic pesticides in Egypt by over 90 percent, from over 35,000 tonnes per year to about 3,000 tonnes. At the same time, the average yield of raw cotton was increased by almost 30 percent, and the fiber elasticity and overall quality was
improved, compared to cotton grown with conventional methods.