The SEKEM Initiative was founded by Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish in 1977 to strengthen sustainable development in Egypt. Part of the Initiative is the SEKEM Group of companies which produces, processes and markets organic and bio-dynamic foodstuffs, textiles, and phyto-pharmaceuticals in Egypt, the Arab World, and on international markets. SEKEM is known as the bio-pioneer of the region which significantly contributed to food security through desert land reclamation. With part of their profits the SEKEM companies co-finance the social and cultural activities of the SEKEM Development Foundation that runs, among others, several schools, a medical centre, an academy of applied sciences, and other institutions in Egypt.
In 2009, SEKEM co-founded the Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development which opened in September 2012 with the faculties of Business and Economics, Pharmacy and Engineering. The university aims at empowering students to become entrepreneurs and activists of sustainable development in all spheres of life.
In the coming years, it is planned to open a faculty of Organic Agriculture in order to utilize the vast experience and knowledge that has been built within the Heliopolis Academy of the SEKEM Development Foundation. Intensive research has been conducted for years in:
- Food security,
- Carbon sequestration potential,
- Carbon foot-printing,
- Desert land reclamation,
- Clean technologies such as subsurface irrigation,
- Water foot-printing
- Agroforestry practices,
- Comparative analysis of organic and conventional agricultural practices regarding costs, yields and water consumption in Egypt.
SEKEM and Heliopolis University will continue to spread organic agriculture in the region in order to meet the great challenges of our times such as food and water insecurity, climate change and poverty.