SEKEM was founded in 1977 with the vision of Ibrahim Abouleish, an Egyptian pharmacologist. Ibrahim earned a doctorate in medical chemistry in Austria, where he then worked initially in research and development. Upon returning to Egypt he was overwhelmed by its pressing problems in education and overpopulation, which led him to implement biodynamic farming methods for the first time in the desert. For this unique approach, SEKEM was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, in 2003. Helmy Abouleish, Managing Director of the SEKEM Group, joined his father’s quest for sustainable development by building SEKEM into a leading entrepreneurial corporation. He is a recognized leader of sustainable change in Egypt and beyond, driving a number of initiatives that address major challenges like climate change and food security through organic agriculture and social entrepreneurship.
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- For-profit Social Enterprise
- Sustainable Development; Agriculture, Food and Beverage; Social Innovation
- Areas of Impact
- Middle East & North Africa, Egypt
Sekem is the first initiative to develop biodynamic farming methods in Egypt, building up fertile soil structures, improving agro-biodiversity and promoting organic composting; all products of the system can be sold, used in processing or re-used in cultivation. Sekem's strong commitment to innovative development has led to the nationwide application of biodynamic methods to control pests and improve crop yields. For example, in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture, Sekem deployed a new system of plant protection for cotton, reducing total pesticide use to less than 10% and leading to a ban on crop dusting within the country.
Sekem has grown exponentially in the last decade to become a nationally renowned enterprise and market leader in organic consumer goods. Apart from strong and long-lasting export partnerships, today more than half of Sekem's overall sales are domestic within Egypt, making the country home to one of the largest markets for organic products outside the western world.
In recent years, the Sekem Group has established a professional corporate sustainability management system, including a comprehensive annual sustainable development report and analysis and monitoring of various performance indicators related to economics, society, culture and the environment. To extend its commitment to sustainable development, Sekem inaugurated Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development, as it believes in the role of academic institutions to actively contribute to social innovation and to helping solve today’s major challenges.