Egyptian University ‘Chito-Shrimp’ feeds multiple sustainability projects

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for  a lifetime”.

Formerly known a SIFE (Students into Free Enterprise) Enactus is the world’s largest experiential learning platform. Its vision is to “create a better, more sustainable world” by developing the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders and social innovators. To do this it establishes student action learning programmes on University campuses around the world. Currently they are represented in 35 countries and have 72,000 student members involved in 1800 programmes. While they organise various events, the most well-known and longest established is the Enactus World Cup. Here the winners of the 35 country national competitions compete to be crowned the global winner.

In 2020 the World Cup winning team was Egypt’s “Chito Shrimp” from Al-Azhar University, the second oldest degree awarding university in the world. In so doing they won the Ford Motor Company Fund’s “Better World” Award of  $50,000,  but more importantly their venture has impacted some 305,000 people. Sponsored by Orascom, and with the support of Kellogg’s, Chito Shrimp has empowered Shakshouk Village in El-Fayoum to create 670 jobs, reclaim 1000 acres of land, and raise the standard of living of people living in poverty, simply by recycling 53 tons of shrimp waste.    

Their story begins in 2010 when the productivity of Lake Qaroun in Egypt declined by 90% owing to water pollution. Prior to that it had produced 55% of Egypt’s shrimp production, and had been an important source of income for thousands of local fishermen. As a consequence 8,000 fishermen became unemployed as did 1400 farmers as the lake was an important source of irrigation. By converting the shrimp shells into spices and fertiliser rather than throwing them back into the lake they were able to address the problem. They partnered with Kellogg’s to distribute the spices and Belgium’s “HandinHand” to export the fertiliser and created 100 spice production units and  20 shrimp  farms, together with eight educational hubs where they trained the fishermen in how to cultivate shrimps. Additionally they invented a mask made out of shrimp shells that protected around 5000 doctors and nurses from Covid-19 and used Chitosan to make household water filters.

Clearly Chito Shrimp addresses SDGs 1 (No Poverty) and 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), but it also embraces 9 (Industry Innovation and Infrastructure), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), as well as 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation),14 (Life Below Water), 15 (Life On Land) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).

As Arun M Kumar, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of KPMG India,  observed when congratulating Chito Shrimp, “Even amid the pandemic, Enactus students delivered innovative projects that inspired us”. Long may they continue to do so and long may we learn from the example of Chito Shrimp and similar student-led projects how to create Harmonious Enterprises that  “create a better, more sustainable world” by ensuring  profit, people and planet are in harmony.

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