Starting Point: Successful Organic Products business
Organizing Strategy: Developing consistency in values applied to environment, employees, methodology of doing business
Tools: Products, market position, employees
Outcome: Internationally recognized model of cooperative business
The strong vision behind SEKEM
When Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish returned to Egypt in 1977 to start the SEKEM initiative he had a strong vision deep in his heart:
In the midst of sand and desert I see myself standing as a well drawing water. Carefully I plant trees, herbs and flowers and wet their roots with the precious drops. The cool well water attracts human beings and animals to refresh and quicken themselves. Trees give shade, the land turns green, fragrant flowers bloom, insects, birds and butterflies show their devotion to God, the creator, as if they were citing the first Sura of the Qu’ran. The human, perceiving the hidden praise of God, care for and see all that is created as a reflection of paradise on earth. For me this idea of an oasis in the middle of a hostile environment is like an image of the resurrection at dawn, after a long journey through the nightly desert. I saw it in front of me like a model before the actual work in the desert started. And yet in reality I desired even more: I wanted the whole world to develop.
People did not believe that this will ever come alive but today SEKEM has become a role model for sustainable development with various international recognition i.e. with the Alternative Nobel Prize in 2003 or the Business for Peace Award in 2012.
SEKEMs development since 1977
Today, SEKEM has cultivated its own Biodynamic farms and with the establishment of the Egyptian Biodynamic Association (EBDA) helped over 700 farmers in Egypt to shift from conventional to Organic agriculture. Various companies have been established in the field of agriculture and cattle management, phytopharmaceuticals, Organic textiles and clothes and Organic food and beverages (market leader in Egypt). Furthermore, SEKEM established the independent SEKEM Development Foundation (SDF), which is running various schools, a kindergarten, a vocational training center, a medical center and a lot of projects. The latest achievement was the establishment of the Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development, which successfully started its operations in the year 2012.
Since the very beginning, SEKEM understood that the great vision can only be realized with a great network of strong partners. Since 1977 SEKEM works together with partners in a fair and transparent way and increased its network continuously.
Supporting SEKEM is easy and effective
SEKEM receives ideally and financial support through different channels. Thanks to long-term relationships with the SEKEM friends associations and ethical working banks SEKEM could realize essential parts of its sustainable development vision.
SEKEMs product origin and value chain.
Transparent. Traceable. Changing Egypt.
Dedicated to Biodynamic processes
The reliability of SEKEM’s production depends, next to its own cultivation (SEKEM for Land Reclamation), on the supply of high quality, Biodynamically grown produce, cotton and herbs. Approximately 70% of all raw materials come from external sources (all Egyptian suppliers of raw materials are part of the EBDA).
In order to guarantee the suppliers’ compliance with our expectations, we implemented a supply chain management throughout SEKEM. Each SEKEM company is responsible for its own suppliers. Our goal is to continuously improve our local and exporting activities. As our own companies, all our suppliers are Demeter certified or in transition (you may read the certificates of each company at each company page: ATOS Pharma | ISIS Organic| NatureTex | Lotus).
Creating awareness –
promoting Biodynamic standards
Our approach combines the control of clear requirements based on international management and technical standards with building partnerships with the farmers. We have succeeded in building associations along our supply chain – fair collaborations characterized by understanding each others needs. Our focus lies on cultivating these relationships in our direct neighborhood in order to develop the rural area. Our suppliers are becoming more and more aware of the advantages of Biodynamic agriculture and promote it within their own community.
The Egyptian Biodynamic Association
Our supply chain management approach ensures that we not only achieve long-term business relationships, but also contribute to the improvement of living conditions and the development of our supplying farmers throughout Egypt. Helmy Abouleish therefore established in 1990 the independent Egyptian Biodynamic Association (EBDA), which promotes the organic agriculture movement in Egypt and the region. In 1996 it has been registered as a non-governmental, non-profit organization providing training, research and advisory services in the field of organic-Biodynamic farming to farmers all over Egypt.
The EBDA provides the training and expertise needed to enable farmers to have their land inspected and certified as organic according to EU standards, or as Biodynamic according to Demeter standard.
Building on SEKEMs experience, expertise and success in the Biodynamic cultivation of herbs, cereals and vegetables and through multilateral cooperation with other organizations, EBDAraises awareness of the organic agricultural method that works actively with the life giving forces of nature.
Reducing use of synthetic pesticides by over 90%
EBDA was the first in the world to cultivate and harvest Biodynamic cotton in 1991, both on an experimental and a commercial scale. Since 1994 the Egyptian government has been supporting farmers to cultivate organic cotton.
A direct result was the landmark achievement of reducing the use of synthetic pesticides on cotton in Egypt by over 90%, from over 35,000 tonnes per year to about 3,000 tonnes. At the same time, the average yield of raw cotton increased by almost 30%.
Modern societies around the world are mainly characterized by the division of labor into economic activities. Through cooperation, values are created and then exchanged as products and services. In this exchange, it is essential that those creating the values be rewarded for their efforts with a fair income. This income must enable them, within their social environment, to achieve and to improve such results in the future, too. Therefore, the establishment of a worldwide cooperative network of value creation, accumulating values for fair interchange relations, is fundamental for a sustainable development of the economy.
The quality management systems of the SEKEM companies are certified according to the ISO 9001 standard. The requirements for this certification include the continuous improvement of control and of all quality relevant processes, as well as the enhancement of customer satisfaction. The standards ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 guide us in proper environmental as well as health and safety management. Any operational planning or product related decision is evaluated for its influence on SEKEMs sustainable development path and discussed in the weekly management meetings of all companies.
The establishment of a worldwide cooperative network of value creation, accumulating values for fair interchange relations, is fundamental for a sustainable development of the economy.
We measure success throughout all dimensions of the Sustainability Flower. This extensive performance evaluation framework used to monitor our key performance indicators is our way to incorporate the precautionary approach (Article 15 of the Rio Principles) into our business model.
Our ambitious goals can only be achieved by building long-lasting partnerships throughout our value chain. This is why we are committed to supporting our suppliers in satisfying our qualitative, social and environmental requirements and coo
Trusted since over 30 years
in Egypt and the world
SEKEM Healthcare is a specialized producer of over the counter natural pharmaceutical products including natural remedies, supplements, and maternal products. The patients can choose amongst a wide array of products.
This concept has been materialized through the availability of OTC (Over the counter) remedies, which represent an easy and convenient form of what was previously known as home natural pharmacy. The SEKEM healthcare products are well known and well trusted in the Egyptian and international markets since over 30 years.
SEKEM Healthcare produces a number of products including Herbal medicinal drinks, child and mother care products, Rheumato
perate with peer companies to share practices and learn from each other.