A Business In A Beehive
Bees. More specifically, African Bees. They’re probably not the first, or even the fifth thing that comes to mind when you think of poverty alleviation. Yet these little insects are causing a stir, and the raw honey they produce is playing a role in lifting thousands of rural farmers out of poverty in East Africa.
Honey Care Africa is a Kenyan based social enterprise which for the past 11 years has brought modern honey production methods to East Africa, built a local market supply and demand for honey, and provided more than 15,000 rural farmers with an simple, gender equal, income generating opportunity. They’ve also achieved something even more remarkable. They’ve done it, for the most part, profitably.
Honey Care Africa’s farmers, who receive the “business in a beehive” package to help get them started, on average earn between 10,000-20,000 Kenyan Shillings per year ($120-$250) depending on the amount of hives they have, for less than 30 minutes of work per week. Considering most of these farmers earn less than $2 per day on average, the additional income, according to farmers, is well worth the investment. Additionally, some of Honey Care’s best bee farmers have gone on to earn a small income training other farmers in their areas.
The company is currently working to scale the business, and begin a transformation to turn honey from a “luxury good” into a nutritional supplement and daily dietary staple, because of its micronutrients. It’s “nature’s perfect immune system booster”, says Honey Care Africa’s CEO Madison Ayer. They are also starting to market their products to the base of the economic pyramid- essentially creating a “closed loop” BoP business model.