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 which integrates 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 70 hectares of desert land by 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. Foodstuff was introduced to the local market under the brand name ISIS
- The German SEKEM Friends Association was founded in Germany by Elfriede and Hans Werner to support SEKEM’s cultural activities.
- 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)) was founded, offering 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) was founded as a manufacturer of Organic Cotton Textiles
- 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) was established as company for Fresh Organic Produce
- Nature’s Best Shops were opened in Cairo to sell organically cultivated food products and organic textiles
- SEKEM Development Foundation 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
- ISIS starts to manufacture organic foodstuff
- The SEKEM Vocational Training Center (VTC) and Arts School were established by the SEKEM Development Foundation and a Literacy Program for disadvantaged children was introduced
- Libra opened new mills and cleaning lines 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 in 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
- 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 and Acumend Fund begun financing a project to encourage the growth of organic cultivation in Egypt
- The SEKEM Development Foundation 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 Biodynamic herbs and spices
- 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 opened 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 SEKEM Friends Germany
- 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), with the plan 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 was 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 agricultural cultivation activities form Libra and concentrates now 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
- 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
- SEKEM celebrates 40 years of Sustainable Development and the 80th birthday of founder Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish
- Ibrahim Abouleish passed away an June 15, at age of 80
- SEKEM was awarded the Luxembourg Peace Prize
- Helmy Abouleish becomes United Nations NAP-Champion for the Adaption to Climate Change
- Heliopolis University opens the first Faculty of Organic Agriculture in Egypt and the Faculty of Physical Therapy
- Helmy Abouleish becomes President of Demeter International