As a subcontractor to Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development, EQI developed and implemented an extensive program for assistance to HEPCA (Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association), including institutional strengthening, administrative/financial management assistance and public relations assistance. This program was designed to enable HEPCA, to better carry out its mandate to protect the marine and land environments along the Red Sea Coast. One major initiative was assisting in the installation and maintenance of mooring buoys to reduce damage to fragile coral reefs. The EQI project procured 250 mooring buoys and related equipment for installation by HEPCA at key dive sites. Further support included assisting with buoy installation and performing a rapid underwater assessment of the health of corals at representative dive sites, to obtain baseline monitoring data for developing future access plans. EQI supported HEPCA's implementation of a training course to teach dive boat captains how (and why) to utilize the buoys and also provided logistical support and advanced training funds for rangers selected under a Memorandum of Agreement with the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA).
EQI is assisted the EEAA in developing and implementing an improved regulatory system for monitoring diving operations and enforcing environmental laws and regulations applicable to maritime recreation activities.
EQI was a key player in developing a national strategy for microfinance in Egypt. Through exhaustive stakeholder engagement and research, EQI built consensus on the critical elements of a strategy to promote a policy environment conducive to MSME sector growth; address legal/regulatory constraints to industry development, promote a supportive microfinance infrastructure;, and support the institutional and capacity building needs of microfinance intermediaries. EQI also conducted a comprehensive study of credit and credit guarantees to finance MSMEs to produce specific policy recommendations to address constraints in Egypt and a credit policy manual. The study contributed to the development of proposals for the reform of the financial system to remove constraints to financial services for MSMEs. An action plan, based on the national strategy, spelled out specific actions to be undertaken by the Egyptian government and the donor community.
EQI was assigned the responsibility for creating a Social Fund for Development for the Government of Egypt. EQI undertook an accelerated preparation of the Egypt Social Fund for Development Project over a period of three months and the promotion of SFD activities. Project preparation was completed on time, and covered four components: Labor Mobility, Community Development, Enterprise Development, and Municipal Services. EQI undertook the technical preparation of all components, complete with a full-fledged implementation plan and associated cost estimates. Responsibilities also included developing the Fund's organizational structure, staffing requirements, and job descriptions; formulating draft bylaws; and designing management and accounting systems. EQI developed the Fund's management information system, incorporating the information plan entity model and detailed system architecture. Applications included the development of a Fund management system, a project tracking system, a loan tracking system, an accounting/general ledger system, and a procurement system. A financial accounting system for SFD operations was developed designed to track document flow within the accounting department and across the organization. The tracking system was designed to be flexible enough to allow the transactions to be documented by funding source or by SFD activity. Provisions were also made for producing aggregated financial reports for government authorities and international lending agencies. An accounting manual was developed, with all procedures, standards, and forms for an effective system of internal controls.
Alternative arrangements for the management of the SFD were formulated and compared. This included a detailed assessment of the relative merits of contracting out the operation of the Social Fund to specialized private firms. Handbooks and manuals governing all aspects of Fund operations were prepared. EQI also served as an interim Technical Secretariat for the Fund. Responsibilities included the development of a Year I implementation program for all project components; and advancing the preparation of various sub-projects, including the development of sample framework agreements, technical assistance contracts, and civil works contracts. Sub-project appraisal manuals and training manuals for participating nongovernmental organizations were designed, and mechanisms for program implementation were detailed for each component. EQI produced promotional materials for the SFD, including letterheads, a brochure, and a logo.
EQI was instrumental in setting up Egypt’s first privately-owned microfinance services company, Reefy. EQI established all company operational policies and procedures, identified and set up branch offices, recruited and trained all staff (administrative, technical and financial), developed loan products, negotiated bank agreements, and developed employee incentive schemes. EQI also instituted all required accounting and loan tracking systems, as well as monitoring and evaluation and reporting processes.
The Siwa Sustainable Development Initiative, that aims to bring market-oriented solutions to one of Egypt’s most isolated and impoverished, but also unique and beautiful communities; an exciting example of the value and profitability of adopting a sustainable development approach to commercial ventures, Adrère Amellal, the “White Mountain” in Amazigh language was the first activity in this initiative.
Adrère Amellal is a unique and exclusive location which captured the founder Dr. Mounir Nemattala in the year 1992, “I Started a new life at the foot of this mountain” Dr. Nemattalla.
Under the mountain were about 10 dilapidated seasonal Kershef built homes used for harvest that belonged to 18 different families. The initial layout of the homes was kept, and extensions were added to create an exclusive and unique eco-lodge, with an organic farm. The freshness of the produce enables and farm to table approach enables Adrére Amellal to offer an extraordinary gastronomic experience.
Each of the 40 rooms at Adrère Amellal is unique and hand-built in the traditional Siwan style, blending naturally into the landscape and featuring traditional furniture and decor pay tribute to nature and to talented local artisanship. The lodge does not have electricity, so rooms are lit at night by lanterns and beeswax candles. There are no telephones and cell phones are not allowed outside of guest rooms, providing a perfect escape into the tranquility of the oasis. Rooms are constructed using kershef for the walls, a mixture of mud and sun-dried salt, which keeps the indoor temperature down, and designed to make the best use of the desert breezes to keep air flowing through the spaces. In the evenings when temperatures are cooler, braziers are placed under tables and beds are heated with hot water bottles.
The Siwa Sustainable Development Initiative brings market-oriented solutions to one of Egypt’s most isolated and impoverished, but also unique and beautiful communities; an exciting example of the value and profitability of adopting a sustainable development approach to commercial ventures.
Built in the year 1999 using sustainable building methods surrounded by thousands of palm and olive trees is the tranquil Kenooz Shali Lodge. The main building was built and designed as a village lodge using mudbrick, whereas the extension was added on later. The extension was an abandoned family home built in the tradition Kershef technique, which is rock salt (as bricks) and the silt and mud (as the mortar), the home was renovated using the same technique. Kenooz Shali is designed to offers the guests an outdoor indoor experience, with many terraces overlooking the palm groves, and aa unique pool where you can enjoy a swim under the shadows of the palm trees. The lodge has 20 rooms and suits, along with many common areas for guests to enjoy, all designed to reflect the cultural and artistic heritage of Siwa.With an array of local culinary specialties brought to you by warm and inviting staff, Kenooz Shali is truly feels like your home away from home.
Albabenshal Heritage Lodge sits amidst the spectacular jagged ruins of Old Shali, a 13th century citadel in the center of downtown Siwa. The construction of this heritage lodge began with ancient, dilapidated Siwan homes that were renovated using traditional kershef, a mixture of sun-dried salt, mud and sand. Modeled after the design of the original structures that filled the fortress, the ecolodge maintains the cultural aesthetic of the past while also providing contemporary amenities.
Albabenshal currently offers 14 guest rooms and suites each unique on three levels, connected through a network of alleyways and terraces that look over central Shali and the palm groves beyond. Inside, guest rooms are furnished and decorated in authentic Siwan style, with colorful Bedouin carpets, palm frond chairs, tables and beds, and linens of fine Egyptian cotton embroidered by women of the oasis (Siwa Creations). On the main terrace, the Albabenshal Restaurant serves a diverse offering of Siwan dishes.
Albabenshal provides guests with a unique glimpse into ancient Siwa, when the walls of this fortress once held back attacking tribes and armies. More than resurrecting history, its construction has helped revive the dying craft of kershef, and its continued success generates a range of needed employment opportunities for the local community. We welcome you to join us at the oasis and hope that your stay will be comfortable and rejuvenating. We hope that you will give yourself the gift of rediscovery in this ancient land and create memories to last a lifetime.
For more than one hundred years the Egyptian Museum Stood in Tahrir, renowned for housing the world’s largest and most important collection of Pharaonic art; and its distinctive 19th century Beaux-Arts architecture. Both the architecture and the collection have for decades been a source of fascination for visitors from all over the world. It has been and still remains, alongside the Great Pyramids of Giza, the most visited cultural heritage sit e in Egypt. However, it has suffered significant deterioration over the last 60 years. Several factors have contributed to this deterioration. These include the continued neglect of management, operation, and maintenance standards; as well as the steady encroachment on the Museum’s grounds and buffer zones from the mid-1950s onwards. Furthermore, many of the amenities and infrastructure are in a state of disrepair.
EQI’s flagship endeavor, the Siwa Sustainable Development Initiative, brings market-oriented solutions to one of Egypt’s most isolated and impoverished, but also unique and beautiful communities; an exciting example of the value and profitability of adopting a sustainable development approach to commercial ventures.
The Siwa Initiative is a private-sector initiative demonstrating that a socially responsible and environmentally sound business approach can be financially rewarding. The initiative is an integrated development plan that addresses economic, cultural and environmental challenges. It has revived the traditional Siwan architectural style and traditional embroidery skills, both of which were becoming extinct, and created awareness among the local community and the authorities of the economic value of preserving the Siwan cultural heritage.
Interest in preserving Siwa’s remarkable heritage was sparked among the local community when the minaret of the another mosque toppled over in the late 1990s, during an earthquake. Having witnessed EQI’s engagements in the oasis, starting in 1996, the Siwan community, through the Siwa Council, approached the firm in 2012 in an effort to preserve and restore the Moqbil mosque; however, the Ministry of Antiquities, which holds jurisdiction over the Shali archaeological site, steered EQI to restore the older mosque of Atiq. This restoration, which was completed in 2015 and using EQI’s own private funds, prompted some of the house owners in the vicinity of the mosque to undertake the restoration of their own houses, and subsequently converted them into bazaars, since these were more attractive to tourists. The mosque now has a parish of about 150 daily users.
The project is training 92 Siwans, many below the age of 30, to revive the dying art of traditional kershef building. EQI already has a manual of traditional kershef building techniques. The training exercise builds the capacity of Shali residents, property owners, and their families, to equip them with the requisite capabilities for upgrading their own homes and residences, in order to secure the sustainability of the project. These trained individuals will eventually form part of the force entrusted with sustaining Siwa’s kershef heritage, at the end of the program.
EQI is also undertaking awareness activities to inform the community of the project and its potential benefits. At the end of the project, Siwans will better value their cultural heritage, and have a good understanding of what can be done to protect it. They will, moreover, literally have the skills to do so themselves, which will awaken in them the sense of pride that is necessary to ensure that proper management practices are upheld. The aim of the project is really to motivate Siwans to take the matter into their own hands. Siwans actually own many of the buildings in the various kershef settlements of Siwa, and it is therefore important to sensitize them to the heritage they possess and represent.
The Saqqara Site Management Project was designed with the objective of enhancing the value, significance and attraction of the Saqqara archaeological site and its vicinity as a reference destination for both national and international visitors. The project targeted enhancing the capacity of the Supreme Council for Antiquities (SCA) to formulate, implement and administer site management and visitation plans; as well as the provision of high quality site management tools, facilities and interpretation panels to add value to - and increase the visibility of - the actions of the French missions and the SCA on the site. EQI drew the environmental profile of the study area, administered training on environmental profiling and provided insight into the relevant environmental management actions to be incorporated in the site management plan.
The Revival of the Egyptian Museum project has two main components. The first is aimed at bringing Egypt’s prime National Museum back to its former glory, which, over the past decades has seen significant deterioration. The second component will address wider sustainability issues with respect to preventative conservation measures for the Museum’s priceless artefacts. The project will address the pressing physical needs of the Museum, ensuring it remains a reference destination for both national and international visitors. Moreover, since it is recognised, even among MSA management, that there is a general lack of practical training in the national universities for young professionals seeking employment in archaeology or museums, the project will include capacity-building activities to enhance the skills of the MSA’s current and future curatorial staff.
Two of Siwa's most famous ancient Roman springs, Cleopatra’s Bath and Fatnas, had been tiled using historically and culturally inappropriate modern ceramics. EQI was asked to remedy the restore the historical integrity of the springs and so mobilized its team of Siwan master builders and craftsmen to restore the springs. The team efficiently worked to encase the springs in local rock from the mountainside, while ensuring that the springs stayed active and in continuous flow.