When Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish returned to Egypt in 1977 to start the SEKEM Initiative he had a strong vision deep in his heart:
“In the midst of sand and desert I see myself standing before a well drawing water. Carefully I plant trees, herbs and flowers and wet their roots with the precious drops. The cool well water attracts human beings and animals to refresh and quicken themselves. Trees give shade, the land turns green, fragrant flowers bloom, insects, birds and butterflies show their devotion to God, the creator, as if they were citing the first Sura of the Qu’ran. The human, perceiving the hidden praise of God, care for and see all that is created as a reflection of paradise on earth. For me this idea of an oasis in the middle of a hostile environment is like an image of the resurrection at dawn, after a long journey through the nightly desert. I saw it in front of me like a model before the actual work in the desert started. And yet in reality I desired even more: I wanted the whole world to develop.”
Vision & Mission
SEKEM Initiative was founded with the vision of sustainable development and giving back to the community. It aims to develop the individual, society and environment through a holistic approach which integrates ecology, economy, societal and cultural life. Today, the vision that brought Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish to dig the first well in the vast desert land still resounds in all of SEKEMs activities. Like a compass, our vision, mission and values guide us in the everyday work in all SEKEM institutions.
In 1977, Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish started the SEKEM Initiative on an untouched part of the Egyptian desert (70 hectares) 60 km northeast of Cairo. Using Biodynamic agricultural methods, desert land was revitalized and a striving agricultural business developed. Over the years, SEKEM became the umbrella of a multifaceted agro-industrial group of companies and NGOs, including different educational institutions and a Medical Center. Today, SEKEM is regarded as a leading social business worldwide.
After experiencing two completely different worlds, European and Egyptian culture, the vision of SEKEM appeared in Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish’s mind. When he then bought desert land to realize his dream and build up a sustainable community, he was called crazy. Together with the support of some other dreamers and believers however, he realized a small miracle in the desert. Helmy Abouleish, Dr. Abouleish’s son and most dedicated supporters, now serves as Chief Executive Officer.
In 2003, the Schwab Foundation awarded Dr. Abouleish as one of the world’s outstanding Social Entrepreneurs. That same year, SEKEM and Dr. Abouleish received the prestigious “Right Livelihood Award”, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. The awarding committee stated that “SEKEM demonstrates how a modern business model combines profitability and success in world markets with a humane and spiritual approach to people while maintaining respect for the environment.”
The photo on the right showes Hans-Martin Schempp presenting the One World Family Award in 2013 in Germany.
Friends, Partners & Network
Since the very beginning, SEKEM has understood that its great vision could only be realized through the support of a network of strong partners. Therefore, since 1977 SEKEM has continuously striven to foster a strong network of dedicated partners to work with in a fair and transparent way. Building partnerships based on mutual trust is important not only in private but also in economic life. SEKEM would not have been possible without long standing cooperation that has been developed over the years.
The Companies within SEKEM are part of the SEKEM Holding, which was established in 2000. Each Company within SEKEM Holding has its own Management Board. Selected Managers of the Companies and the Holding Management take part in the Management Meeting, which is held on weekly, monthly and quarterly basis. The Holding Company is led by a Board of Directors, which is in charge of major strategic and financial decisions in regards to the SEKEM Holding.
Sustainability & Sustainability Reports
SEKEM was founded with the idea of sustainable development and the aim to build a prosperous future for the surrounding communities and Egypt. Through a holistic approach that includes the four dimensions of economy, ecology, cultural and societal life, SEKEM strives to truly implement sustainability. This holistic concept guides SEKEM and all its institutions like a compass in the everyday work. Supported by the SEKEM Sustainability Flower, the Initiative yearly monitors its performance in the SEKEM Sustainability Report.