Rob Katz

Harvesting Sustainable Practices in the Egyptian Desert

Friends often ask me how profit can co-exist with good social and environmental practices, especially at the BOP. After all, we have a hard enough time here in the so-called ?advanced? economy of the United States doing it–with the compound pressure of poverty, won?t social and environmental standards fall by the wayside?

There’s no simple answer to the question, but Egypt’s SEKEM might shed some light. Since 1977, the firm has been working to reclaim desert as farmland using organic agricultural techniques. Emphasizing training in modern farm management, organic cultivation and the negotiation of long term supplier contracts, SEKEM currently provides reliable employment and income to 900 small and medium scale family farms while reclaiming over 3,000 hectares of farmland.

Building on its early economic and environmental success, SEKEM now runs health care and education programs that emphasize participation, integration and the need to foster long-term independence and self-determination of community members.

Sound too good to be true? You can find out more from the Activity Database, the International Herald Tribune, or the recently-launched Innovations in Emerging Markets blog.

(Via Innovations in Emerging Markets @ the IFC)