An evaluation of SEKEM's impact on its farmer suppliers

As a pioneering social enterprise (established in 1978) SEKEM is actively involved in desert reclamation, converting desert into farmland using biodynamic farming concepts.

SEKEM's farming, processing and distribution activities take place at the Belbeis farm complex near Cairo, supplemented by the production of approximately 500 out-growers with long-term supply arrangements, providing some 75% of the total production volume. SEKEM comprises nine companies selling organic foodstuffs, textiles and phyto-pharmaceuticals with an integrated value chain targeting national and international markets.

Impact assessment agricultural sector

Oikocredit is providing credit and equity to micro-finance institutions and to cooperatives, fair trade organizations and SMEs. It also facilitates and co-finances capacity building to enhance the sustainability of its partner organisations. Oikocredit has proposed this study partly because of growing interest in understanding the impacts on its partners’ clients, particularly in relation to its production and services portfolio in agriculture in Africa. An evaluation of SEKEM’s holistic business model and related impact indicators can contribute to a better understanding of and growing body of evidence on impact assessment in the agricultural sector, both in terms of results and methods.

Oikocredit, investing in SEKEM since 2010, requested an impact evaluation study
  1. to gain insights into SEKEM's impact on its 179 farmer (supplier) entities;
  2. to establish a baseline, against which SEKEM can track impact over time and identify areas where adjustments are needed to improve sustainability; and
  3. to gather information to improve SEKEM's accountability to various stakeholders.

Focus and criteria of the evaluation

The evaluation is focused on SEKEM's economic, social, cultural and ecological impact on the farmer supplier entities, and based on the following evaluation criteria:
  1. the impact of SEKEM’s activities (what changes – intended or unintended – have resulted?)
  2. relevance (pertinence to the farmer suppliers and implicitly to their concerns and pre- occupations)
  3. sustainability (will changes last?)
  4. efficacy and effectiveness (having the intended effects), and
  5. efficiency (using the available resources to best effect).