It is no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for everyone to enjoy occasions and gatherings. Despite that, people have been trying their best to overcome the hard times and hold onto the spirits of festivities and feasts – including the SEKEM community.
To celebrate the holy month of Ramadan and the feast “El-Eid”, SEKEM launched something special this year that had been in development for quite some time: SEKEM Miza. SEKEM Miza is an alternative payment system (complementary currency) that grants employees points when purchasing food or beverages from the SEKEM shops located on the farm and at the headquarters. Normally SEKEM gives every employee and community member a gift basket at the occasion of the end of Ramadan feast. This year, each of the approximately 1800 co-workers received 200 Miza points at the beginning of the holy month. Hence, people were able to share the value with their beloved family members or buy presents for them by making use of the points.
“‘Miza’ in Arabic stands for ‘benefit’ and thus embodies the claim of direct participation in value creation”, explains Samuel Knaus, who works on the development and implementation of Miza in SEKEM. “By ensuring that the profits generated remain in the local community and are not distributed to external shareholders, this could become a cornerstone for a thriving local, transparent and social economy”, he adds. With the Miza points, SEKEM aims to promote and support sustainable, ecological products.
After the first testing period was conducted with around 150 people, the second phase is now running with around 1800 SEKEM co-workers. In the coming months, all SEKEM companies shall be integrated into the system as well in order to reach the next step in building a closed value circle.
In its vision for 2057 SEKEM aims for introducing an ethical banking system in Egypt. Developing a complementary currency is one important step towards this goal and will concurrently contribute to several other SEKEM vision goals such as an economy of love, healthy food and sustainable products.
Celebrating and learning: The Vision of ‘Ethical Banking’ at the SEKEM Festival