Egyptian Agro-Business Is Socially Conscious and Green to Boot

In the arid Egyptian desert — an area not typically associated with socially progressive entrepreneurship — the Sekem Group is demonstrating how home-grown business can make both profit and positive change. Founded in 1977 by Ibrahim Abouleish, the agro-business has developed a wide range of products (herbal medicines, organic food and cotton, and more), and it provides good schooling, vocational training, and health care to its 2,000 employees and other local community members. At a time when many other businesses are struggling, Sekem actually grew by 25 percent last year. It has also started a number of nearly self-sustaining nonprofit projects like the Egyptian Biodynamic Association, which promotes chemical-free farming. The jury of the Right Livelihood Foundation awarded Sekem its “Alternative Nobel Prize,” saying, “Dr. Abouleish practices what he calls the economics of love — and it works. He proves that you can do the right thing and make a living out of it.”