Ibrahim Abouleish (born 1937 in Egypt) began his chemistry and medicine studies at the age of 19 in Austria. He did his doctorate in 1969 in the field of pharmacology and then worked in leading positions within pharmaceutical research. During this time he was granted patents for a number of new medicines, especially for osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis. During a visit to Egypt in 1975 he was caught by the deplorable economic and social conditions of his country of origin. In 1977 he returned to Egypt and founded the comprehensive development initiative SEKEM.
SEKEM developed as the first entity using biodynamic farming methods in Egypt. The organization has grown a lot from the beginning of the 1990s and is meanwhile the market leader for organic products and crop remedies. The organizations' commitment regarding innovative development has led to a widespread use of biodynamic methods in pest control and to the improvement of yields. They were one of the first to establish organic and biodynamic methods for growing cotton.
In 2003, Ibrahim Abouleish and SEKEM received the Right Livelihood Award 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. In 2006 he was appointed as a councillor at the World Future Council. In 2012, Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish was appointed an Oslo Business for Peace Honouree, receiving his award at Oslo City Hall, from The Business for Peace Foundation. In 2013 he received the Global Thinkers Forum 2013 Award for Excellence in Positive Change.