Vision & Mission | History | Founders | Awards | Friends, Partners & Network | Organizational Structure | Sustainability
A Lot Happened Since 1977
The SEKEM Initiative was founded to realize the vision of sustainable human development. Its mission is the development of the individual, society and environment through a holistic concept integrating economic, societal and cultural life. Above all, SEKEM aspires to be an impulse for continuous development in all parts of life, to be not only a model for, but also a contribution to the development of the entire world.
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. Today, SEKEM is regarded as a leading social business worldwide.
SEKEM in Years…
- SEKEM was established by Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish and his wife Gudrun, on an area of 70 hectares of desert land through applying Biodynamic principles.
- SEKEM sent the first shipment of medicinal herbs and food ingredients to the USA.
- SEKEM launched its first product line of herbal remedies on the local pharmaceutical market under the brand name SEKEM Herbs and foodstuff was introduced to the local market under the brand name ISIS.
- The Association for Cultural Development in Egypt was founded as a non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) in Germany.
- The Egyptian Society for Cultural Development (SCD, later renamed to the SEKEM Development Foundation, SDF) started its activities with employee training in the field of arts and science.
- ATOS Pharma was established as an international joint venture company between SEKEM, Deutsche Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG) and Dr. Schaette KG, to develop the Egyptian natural pharmaceutical market.
- The SEKEM Kindergarten and the Mahad Adult Training Institute were established.
- LIBRA was founded as a company specialized in packing and exporting fresh fruit and vegetables to Europe.
- The SEKEM School started with primary and secondary stages.
- ATOS Pharma set up regional sales and distribution offices in Alexandria, Assiut and Mansoura.
- LIBRA started, in cooperation with EOSTA and Organic Farm Foods, the export of organic fresh fruits and vegetables to Europe.
- SEKEM encouraged the foundation of the Centre of Organic Agriculture in Egypt (COAE) as an independent certification body, working in accordance with Demeter guidelines and later the European Regulation for Organic Agriculture.
- Libra for Organic Cultivation was established to coordinate the organic cultivation of cotton and all other crops organically grown in Egypt.
- Conytex (now NatureTex), for manufacturing Organic Cotton Textiles was established.
- The Egyptian Biodynamic Association (EBDA) was founded as an independent non-governmental organization to provide agricultural training and consultancy services in Egypt.
- ATOS Pharma launched a range of phytopharmaceuticals and started clinical trials in different medical departments at many university hospitals in Egypt.
- Hator (now part of ISIS), a company for Fresh Organic Produce was established.
- Nature’s Best Shops were opened in Cairo to sell organically cultivated healthy food products and organic textiles.
- Egyptian Society for Cultural Development opened the SEKEM Medical Centre.
- The International Association of Partnership for Ecology and Trade (IAP) was established between SEKEM and many of its international business partners.
- SEKEM, ATOS Pharma, Conytex and Hator were ISO 9001 certified for the first time.
- ISIS starts to manufacture organic foodstuff.
- The SEKEM Vocational Training Center (VTC) and Arts School were established by the Egyptian Society for Cultural Development (now SDF). A Literacy Program for disadvantaged children was introduced.
- Libra opened its new mill and cleaning line for cereals, rice and dry legumes.
- The Centre of Organic Agriculture in Egypt (COAE) attained accreditation according to the international quality management procedures for product certifying bodies (EN45011).
- SEKEM Academy for Applied Arts and Science (now part of the Heliopolis University) was founded and started research in the fields of medicine, pharmacy, agriculture and arts.
- The Cooperative of SEKEM Employees (CSE) was founded.
- The SEKEM Holding was established for supporting, supervising and evaluating the SEKEM Group of Companies.
- The SEKEM Information and Management System (SIS) was introduced by all companies.
- ATOS Pharma installed a new pilot extraction unit for medicinal plants.
- Libra extended its capacity by building new greenhouses, stables for cows and chicken farms.
- The International Finance Corporation (IFC), one of the World Bank affiliates, and DEG participated in new investments of the SEKEM Group of Companies.
- SEKEM Academy for Applied Arts and Science built pharmaceutical and soil fertility laboratories.
- SEKEM received the Alternative Nobel Prize or Right Livelihood Award. The jury sees in SEKEM “a business model for the 21st century in which commercial success is `economics of love’.”
- Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish was selected as an “Outstanding Social Entrepreneur” by the Schwab Foundation.
- Citrus fruit and potatoes were among the first products sold as fair-trade certified by FLO Germany.
- SEKEM Academy for Applied Arts and Science started training courses for eurythmy at the workplace.
- SEKEM and Acumend Fund are financing a project to increase the growth of the organic cultivation of the land and the number of Egyptian farmers.
- The Egyptian Society for Cultural Development (now SDF) together with the University Witten/Herdecke formed a consortium with Cairo University, Helwan University, Zagazig University, Antwerp University, Marburg University, King’s College London and the University London School of Pharmacy to carry out the EU project DOPSE-TEMPUS to develop a phytopharmacy curriculum.
- LOTUS was founded as a company processing organic herbs and spices from Biodynamically cultivated plants.
- Establishment of SEKEM Europe to support the overall goal of SEKEM Holding to process and market healthy and ethical products made from Biodynamic ingredients.
- SEKEM Museum for natural history and human prehistory opens for visitors.
- Egyptian Biodynamic Association started projects on new feed technology, improving seeds of medicinal and aromatic plants and use of solar dryers as alternative sustainable drying system for small growers.
- Start of a three-years “13 villages” project for comprehensive poverty alleviation intervention in rural Sharkeya, Egypt in cooperation with the Verein zur Förderung kultureller Entwicklung in Ägypten e.V. (association for the support of the cultural development of Egypt).
- El Mizan for plant nursery grafting and raising young fruit and vegetable plants, was established.
- EcoTec Holding was established as a sister organization of the SEKEM Holding, dedicated to renewable energy and other environmental services.
- Heliopolis Academy opened the Water Research Department working on advanced water and wastewater treatment technologies, advanced water disinfection techniques, doing research on state-of-the-art irrigation techniques as well as analyzing water for all applications.
- The SEKEM Environmental Science Center was founded to cooperate with the SEKEM School and all schools in the region in the fields of practical environmental science training.
- Establishment of SEKEM for Land Reclamation (SLR). It is planned to reclaim and plant in total 6.000 feddan (2520 hectares) in North Sinai, the Bahareya Oasis, and in Minia Governorate.
- First Report on Sustainable Development is published for the year 2007.
- Development of the Sustainability Flower as reporting, assessment and management tool together with IAP.
- Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development receives its acknowledgment by the Presidential Decree No. 298.
- First “Heliopolis Academy Innovation Award”.
- Foundation of the international joint venture “PREDATORS” (for breeding insects for organic pest control).
- SEKEM for Land Reclamation (SLR) takes over all cultivation activities form Libra, which is now concentrating on cattle management and compost production.
- Second “Heliopolis Academy Innovation Award”.
- Inauguration and opening of the Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development.
- “Business for Peace Award” by Oslo Business for Peace Foundation for adding to a better understanding of the relationship between ethical business practices and peace.
- One World Family Award, Stuttgart, Germany
- Excellence in Positive Change – Global Thinker Forum Award, Athens, Greece
- Golden Award of the Technical University Graz
- Land for Life Award from United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification
- Highest honorary medal by the German governorate of Baden-Wuerttemberg