Recently the first Social Entrepreneurship Conference took place in Egypt. In the beautiful scenery of the small resort town El Gouna, directly located at the coast of the Red Sea, more than 200 entrepreneurs, academics, policy makers and students came together to share their opinions and experiences in regards to social entrepreneurship. SEKEM was invited to join the event because Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish is known as the pioneer of social entrepreneurs in Egypt.
“A very promising way to strengthen Egypt is to pay more attention to innovation and entrepreneurship”, said Mohamed Sultan, who represented SEKEM in El Gouna. “And SEKEM is the best example to show that it is possible to be competitive in the market and in the same time paying high attention to social needs.” The representative of SEKEM underlined that a continued successful economy requires more than putting the focus to profit. The awareness and consideration about the social potential takes a huge part in prosperous businesses. “Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish realized a miracle by establishing a sustainable community in the desert. We in SEKEM are convinced that a holistic approach is crucial for success and stability in all sectors and social entrepreneurship is one pillar regarding this holistic mission”, Mohamed Sultan said during his speech at the entrepreneurs conference.
“Healing the Egyptian society from the wounds of the past…”
The first event of this character in Egypt was initiated by the International Labour Organization’s Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People (DJEP) in cooperation with the Middle East Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (MCSBE) and took place from November 19 till 21 at the El Gouna Campus of Technische Universität Berlin. Besides SEKEM, representatives from the government, private sector and civil society attended the conference, as for instance General Major Ahmed Abdullah (Governor of the Red Sea), Ghada Waly (Minister of Social Solidarity), or Troy Lulashnyk (Ambassador of Canada in Egypt). All participants focused to a comprehensive perspective of the topic, starting with discussing the different definitions of Social Entrepreneurship given for instance by the International Labor Organization, going over to education and training opportunities and finally presenting national and international best practice examples. “The simplest definition of social entrepreneurship is solving social challenges using viable business solutions”, Mohamed Sultan stated and added: “In the Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development we are focusing on this by trying to encourage our students to become the change makers of the future, which might help to create more innovative Social Entrepreneurship.”
As Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish wasn’t able to join the conference, Mohamed Sultan tried to convey his spirit by telling the story of the SEKEM founder and international well known entrepreneur. “Dr. Ibrahim was wishing to heal the Egyptian society from the wounds of the past by considering the four dimensions of sustainable development, ecology, economy, societal and cultural life, with the same attention.” The SEKEM representative then concluded: “Social Entrepreneurship is best recognized in challenged economies, which means that now it is exactly the right time for us in Egypt to promote it.”