West Africa

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Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish
GNAP Social Entrepreneur Fellow, founder of SEKEM, Egypt

Born in Egypt in 1937, Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish moved to Austria in 1956. He studied chemistry and medicine at the University of Graz. During a journey through Egypt in 1975, Dr. Abouleish was overwhelmed by his country’s overpopulation, and its pollution, particularly from the use of chemical pesticides. In 1977 he decided to establish a comprehensive development initiative, SEKEM.

Taking its name from the hieroglyphic transcription meaning “vitality,” SEKEM was the first entity to develop biodynamic farming methods in Egypt. However, SEKEM is not just an agricultural enterprise. It believes that sustainable profit making should go handinhand with an integrated socioeconomic business model, providing employees and farming communities throughout the country the opportunity to improve their education, health and quality of life.

Dr Abouleish’s vision has earned him world recognition. In 2003, he and SEKEM received the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize) for integrating the commercial success with promotion of the social and cultural development of society. He was selected as an "Outstanding Social Entrepreneur" by the Schwab Foundation in 2004 and as “Business for Peace Honouree” in 2012.

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