“SEKEM truly has a unique way of pulling all its varying parts into one overall body”, says Archie Pearson. The young Englishman is one of nine members of Oikocredit that visited SEKEM in the beginning of November for one week in order to receive insights to a project that the cooperative society supports since 2012. Oikocredit focuses on investments in the field of microfinance, cooperatives and small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries that empower people to invest in themselves and their future. “Our success as Oikocredit is measured when our partners do exemplary good work on sustainable development; SEKEM is an excellent partner to invest in”, tells Wilfried Steen, board member of one of Oikocredit’s Support Associations in Germany. Hence, the enterprise plans to offer its co-workers a study tour to SEKEM every year in order to get to know the partner more closely and in the same time promoting the project afterwards in the Oikocredit network. A team of nine participants from five different countries made the start.
The guests, of course, visited all the different SEKEM institutions, such as the schools, companies, agricultural activities as well as the Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development. “We were left immensely impressed that the university combines its teachings so that students not only develop their individual skills, but also become part of a collective awareness for moving towards a sustainable future”, writes Archie Pearson from the Oikocredit office in the United Kingdom in his blog post. He and his colleagues also went to the Oasis El Fayoum where they visited one of SEKEMs contracted farmers and got an idea on how Egypt looks like outside the doors of SEKEM. “The farmers are invaluable members of the SEKEM value chain”, notes Cheryl Jackson, Board member of the Oikocredit Support Association Suisse Romande. For her, the entire SEKEM visit was a realization of “our relationship to earth and our responsibility to care for it. SEKEM is an example of the power of an idea, optimism, energy, perseverance and entrepreneurship.”
At the last two days, the very friendly and highly motivated Oikocredit group went to see the treasures of ancient Egypt, such as the pyramids or the Egyptian museum. During a barbeque with the SEKEM community, accompanied by Egyptian music, the enriching partner visit then slowly came to an end. But there will definitely remain great memories on both sides. The Oikocredit guests promised that they will share their SEKEM impressions back home in order to raise awareness about the holistic development initiative in Egypt. And in SEKEM, the representatives of one of SEKEMs strongest partners strengthened the consciousness about the fact that the SEKEM miracle wouldn’t be possible without the great worldwide network of supporters. Wilfried Steen concludes: “SEKEM seems like an oasis in the Egyptian political, social and economic reality. It is like a beacon of a new time.”
The entire agenda and more impressions of the Oikocredit visit can be discovered on the Oikocredit Blog where different participants published articles about the SEKEM trip.
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Social Impact Study on SEKEMs contracted farmers conducted by Oikocredit