The SEKEM Initiative was founded in 1977 with the vision of sustainable development through a holistic approach: Ecology, economy, society and culture are considered on an equal footing. The vision that led Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish to dig the first well in the desert is still reflected in all of SEKEM’s activities after 40 years.
In 1977, Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish founded the SEKEM initiative on an untouched part of the Egyptian desert (70 hectares), 60 km north-east of Cairo. Using biodynamic agriculture, he made the desert soil fertile and founded companies to process the products of the fields. Over the years, more and more companies and educational institutions were established, always with human development in the foreground. Today, SEKEM is known as one of the world’s leading social enterprises.
After the Egyptian-born Ibrahim Abouleish had lived, studied and worked in Europe for 20 years, absorbing European culture in a similar way to Egyptian culture, the vision of SEKEM was born. When he returned to his home country from Austria after a long time and saw the great challenges Egypt was facing, he decided to implement his vision against all odds. Although he was declared crazy by many, a few people supported him in his great undertaking, including his son Helmy Abouleish, who is a member of the advisory board of the Academy for Sustainability and today heads the SEKEM Initiative.
In 2003, Ibrahim Abouleish was chosen by the Schwab Foundation as one of the world’s outstanding social entrepreneurs. In the same year, SEKEM and Dr Abouleish received the prestigious Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. The award committee noted that “SEKEM demonstrates how a modern business model, profitability and success in world markets can be combined with respect for the environment and with a humane and spiritual approach.”
SEKEM was founded with the idea of sustainable development and building a prosperous future for the surrounding communities and Egypt. With a holistic approach that includes the four dimensions of economy, ecology, culture and society, SEKEM strives for a sustainable implementation of this vision. This holistic concept guides SEKEM and all its activities like a compass. Supported by the SEKEM Sustainability Flower, the initiative evaluates its performance annually in the SEKEM Sustainability Report.