Press Releases

IFC’s North Africa Enterprise Development (NAED) and SEKEM Sign an Agreement to Enhance SEKEM’s Supply Chain Linkages with SMEs

In Washington, DC:
Robert Wright

Phone: (202) 473-7997


Cairo, October 17th, 2003 – North Africa Enterprise Development (NAED), a small and medium enterprise (SME) technical assistance facility managed by IFC, and SEKEM, an Egyptian producer of organic agricultural products, have signed an agreement whereby NAED will help strengthen SEKEM’s supply chain linkages with its farm suppliers, a vast majority of which are SMEs.  

Under the agreement, NAED will assist SEKEM in implementing a supply chain management solution that would enhance SEKEM’s communication and collaboration with over 200 SME  farm suppliers.  The solution is expected to result in an improvement in efficiency throughout SEKEM’s supply chain, with an increase in production forecast accuracy and in realized sales revenue for the SME farmers.

“Due to this cooperation, the first Arabized agriculture ERP system will be implemented in Egypt. E
nterprise Resource Planning is a software system that helps companies better manage relationships with their suppliers. Without NAED’s support, this project would not have been possible at this time,” said Helmy Abouleish, SEKEM’s managing director.

NAED’s support to SEKEM will complement IFC’s existing financial support.  In January 2003, IFC committed a $5 million loan to SEKEM to expand its production of organically produced pharmaceutical products, fruits, vegetables, and textiles.

“SEKEM is an important client for IFC and is a leader in sustainable and socially responsible business in Egypt.  We are pleased to have SEKEM as a partner in our efforts to improve the business opportunities for SMEs in the critical agricultural sector” said Sami Haddad, director of IFC’s Middle East and North Africa department.

“IFC and NAED are committed to strengthening linkages between SMEs and larger corporations.  SEKEM is a positive role model for businesses in Egypt that deal with SMEs as business partners, and I am delighted that we can support SEKEM in this regard,” said Harold Rosen, director of IFC’s SME department.

On August 21, 2003,  the Schwab Foundation announced its selection of Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish, the founder and chairman of the SEKEM Group, as one of the world’s “Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs”.  SEKEM, as the Foundation states in its press release, was selected because it “is establishing the blueprint for the healthy corporation of the 21st century”.  In addition, in October 2003, SEKEM was selected by the Jury of Right Livelihood Foundation for the “Alternative Nobel Prize” due to its effort in sustainable development.

Launched in April 2003, NAED is a regional technical assistance program operating in Algeria, Morocco, and Egypt, co-funded by IFC and donor countries, including Belgium, France, Italy and Switzerland. The focus of the facility in Egypt includes: improving SME access to finance; supporting intermediary organizations (consulting firms, training institutions, and business associations); linkages between SMEs and large firms; and improving the business enabling environment for SMEs.

The mission of IFC is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people's lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY03, IFC has committed more than $37 billion of its own funds and arranged $22 billion in syndications for 2,990 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC's worldwide committed portfolio as of FY02 was $16.7 billion for its own account and $6.6 billion held for participants in loan syndications.