The Sekem Initiative

Authors: Seelos, Christian; Mair, Johanna
Source: IESE Business School
Year: 2004
Company Name: The Sekem Initiative
Number of pages: 28

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Abstract:

This case portrays the complex set of circumstances that frames Sekem's decisions to further grow and develop the initiative along its historical path of holistic development in the social, economic and cultural spheres. The case documents the history of the initiative and lays out the major constituents and their internal and external relations. Sekem was founded by Ibrahim Abouleish, an Egyptian who had been living, studying and working in Austria prior to his return to Egypt in 1977, the year he established Sekem. Literally starting from nothing, i.e., a piece of desert land north of Cairo, Abouleish showed tremendous resourcefulness, creativity, and perseverance. Driven by a strong belief in his personal mission, Abouleish built up Sekem which in 2003 consisted of three main parts: the Sekem group of companies, the Egyptian Society for Cultural Development and the Cooperative of Sekem Employees, together employing more than 2,000 people. Sekem was also a hub managing a large network of associated farmers and companies within Egypt and abroad. It also ran a medical center for the local community, a kindergarten, primary and secondary schools, an adult training center, special needs education programmes, and an academy for applied arts and sciences. In 2003, Abouleish won the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the "Alternative Nobel Prize", in recognition of Sekem being the blueprint of the organization of the 21st century. Abouleish has also received an award as a "outstanding social entrepreneur" from the Schwab Foundation of the World Economic Forum. Abouleish's objective was to heal Egyptian society from the wounds of the past and to initiate holistic development able to create economic, social and cultural value in a sustainable manner.



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