Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish founded the SEKEM GROUP in 1977 in Egypt in order to “establish a business model for the twenty first century in which commercial success is "integrated with and promotes the social and cultural development of society through economics of love.” The organization’s purpose is to promote sustainable development and social equity in the region through organic agriculture, research and development, education and health care.
The Sekem Group initiative started in 1977 on about 70 hectares of desert sand in northeastern Cairo, at the time very much underdeveloped. Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish implemented bio-dynamic and organic farming methods to restore the vitality of the soil and establish a viable agricultural endeavor. Because many children worked to support their families, school attendance was low and illiteracy rates high. The Sekem Group formed to combat socio-economic problems like these, which many farmers in the region faced.
In 1981, the company sent its first shipment of medicinal herbs and food ingredients to the United States. Today, it is made up of 180 farms spanning over an estimated 2,700 hectares all over Egypt from Aswan to Alexandria. Herbs and spices are produced on several farms, two of which are certified – Libra Cultivation (Fair Trade ID 2961) and Farmer Development Association (Fair Trade ID 2577). These two farms have experienced substantial growth over the years and farm workers have earned many social and economic benefits.
The Sekem Group continuously works to raise their community’s living standards. Their social programs, training workshops and a permanent staff of social workers work to provide many services to members and their families including health care, education and infrastructural improvement projects in addition to offering steady jobs and salaries. The company now benefits over 200 employees.