Barclays teams in Egypt are supporting an isolated community to generate a sustainable income, following a programme to plant 350 palm and olive trees.
Employees raised £3,500 earlier this year to buy the trees for disadvantaged people in Wadi El Natroun, set among salt flats in the desert 100km north-west of Cairo. The remote community struggles with unemployment, illiteracy and poor health awareness.
Now, after securing land and establishing a thriving olive and palm tree plantation, Barclays volunteers are working with the Arab Association for Community Development to ensure the trees provide the people of Wadi El Natroun with an opportunity to earn a wage.
Aiming to improve employment levels within the community, our teams are now supporting a project to help villagers sell fruit from the trees and turn olives into sought-after olive oil.
Local women are also being taught how to produce place mats and curtains using environmentally friendly by-products from the trees, which would otherwise be burned.
Funds raised from the sale of such products will be re-invested in the community, providing a reliable revenue stream to help pay for education, and care for local orphans and elderly people. The project is also supporting the community to set up libraries, computer labs and literacy programmes.
Ayman Mahana, Barclays Egypt HR Director and team leader of the project said: “Revenue from the trees, including palm trees that can live up to 70 years, will go towards building the local community.
“It will help with school fees, literacy classes, help for elderly and orphans, marriage expenses, and other social needs identified by the community.”
The trees are expected to yield their first major harvest in three years, but the project is already reporting successful results in engaging the community to care for the plantation, and learn skills to turn their crops into marketable goods.
In 2010, Barclays teams supported 600 people from Wadi El-Natroun, helping fund necessities such as school fees for 115 students and clothes for 193 orphaned children.
The initiative is part of Barclays community investment programme, which engages and supports colleagues to give their time and skills to their chosen community causes.
Last year, 62,118 employees volunteered for more than 350,000 hours and raised more than £18m to support disadvantaged communities around the world.