Earlier this month we had the opportunity to visit SEKEM, a comprehensive development initiative founded by the late Dr Ibrahim Abouleish, a 2012 Oslo Business for Peace Award Honouree. Rafik Costandi welcomed us to Bilbeis, Egypt to give us a first-hand look at SEKEM’s operations.
Spanning agriculture, health, education and textiles, SEKEM takes a holistic approach to sustainable development in Egypt, working toward a future where social structures reflect human dignity and all economic activity is conducted in accordance with ecological and ethical principles.
First, we got to see a production facility at NatureTex, SEKEM’s company for organic cotton textiles and garments. Here, a team member is seen weaving carpets from leftover material used in the all-organic clothing production.
Pigeon towers, with their unique design and all natural materials, can be seen all across Egypt. It is an ancient method of keeping pigeons, either in a farm or on the top of a house near green fields. The ones pcitured below are owned by SEKEM.
Lotus was the first company within the SEKEM initiative, founded in 1977. The company processes organic herbs and spices from bio-dynamically cultivated plants. We got to see the factory, including one of their storage facilities.
Next, we toured Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development, established under the umbrella of SEKEM, and inaugurated in 2012, to introduce sustainable development principles to students in Egypt and improve well-being by decreasing threats to the Earth’s natural systems. The University has an entrepreneurial hub and also includes art and music as part of its core programme since, as Dr Abouleish said, “the human is not just intellect.”
Ms Regina Hanel accompanied us in a tour around campus and to the different faculties. We met students from the Engineering faculty who up-cycled this car and made it electric. It can now drive 80 kilometres after five hours of charging.
Thank you to Regina Hanel (pictured below) and the team at SEKEM for the warm welcome and tour!
“I had a vision of a three-fold project that would allow me to contribute to community-building, humanity, and healing the earth. The desert was like the canvas of a painting, but without a frame.” – Dr Abouleish