Cairo's Christian Entrepreneurs

The Zabaleen are the Christians of Cairo, and as Christians they are a marginalized people doing a marginalized job: collecting garbage. The solid waste they recycled, but the organic waste they fed to their pigs. Muslims can't keep pigs, since pigs are "unclean," but the pigs were what kept Cairo clean. The government learned this to their sorrow, when they had all the pigs slaughtered, supposedly to prevent "swine flu." Now the Zabaleen have no incentive to pick up the organic wastes, which now pile up in the city.

The government thought they could farm the job out to big western companies, but the Zabaleen consider themselves entrepreneurs, and weren't going to do the job for wages, much less for foreigners. The western companies couldn't hire the Zabaleen, and the Muslims consider the job beneath them. Now the big companies have to negotiate with the Zabaleen.

PBS did an interesting report on this situation:

7 comments:

Chris Campbell Friday, February 19, 2010 at 7:59:00 AM CST  

So, the people do this dirty job, make money at it and do not seem to mind it.Plus, it recycle and cleans their communities.The hogs keep the waste down and spread of disease.....well, Govt beurucrats cant have that now, self sufficeincy, non-Govt solutions! No welfare state and control over people...

Chris K Friday, February 19, 2010 at 4:53:00 PM CST  

A powerful image for the Church: Christians as the entrepreneurial garbage collectors.

I also thought the advertisement at the beginning of the video was an interesting choice, promoting American Industrial Agriculture, which is responsible for the displacement of the majority of farmers in the 20th century. Appropriate for a story about the displacement of hard workers by Corporate manipulated Government contracts.

JimB Friday, February 19, 2010 at 5:50:00 PM CST  

"I don't mind doing this - it beats working for the government" LOL !!!

God bless those people. THIS is what I had in mind when I pictured a distributist entrepreneur. I'd like to see something like the start in Haiti - what a missionary opportunity. An important thing to note in this story is the retention of the Christian roots.

Mr. Piccolo,  Saturday, February 20, 2010 at 9:43:00 AM CST  

Interesting. This video reminds me of a study I once read that argued that lower income areas actually have higher levels of entrepreneurship and more local small businesses than more affluent areas. I wish I could remember the name of the study or the scholars who wrote it! Darn it!

Chris Campbell Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 8:47:00 AM CST  

Chris K...well put!

Piccolo, if you find it, please share it sometime, that would be a great discussion piece....

Mission Lawrence Friday, June 18, 2010 at 3:59:00 PM CDT  

As I recall this is how Aremenian immigrants in Southern California who arrived penniless began to accumulate wealth. Of course now it would be illegal!

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