A Buzzing New Business-In-A-Box

African woman with a beehive balanced on her headVillage Enterprise formed a partnership with Honeycare Africa in the spring of 2012 in order to create a new Village Enterprise Business-In-A-Box. The Business-In-A-Box program identifies and packages inputs necessary to start a particular business.  It is given in lieu of a cash grant.  This new partnership enables Village Enterprise business owners to start beehive businesses with Honeycare Africa beehives.

The secret of success for this business lies in the beehive’s dual purpose.  First, bees pollinate existing crops surrounding the hive.  Because beehives are strategically coupled with agriculture businesses, owners benefit from increased yields as a result of pollination.  Secondly, business owners can earn an additional income through the sale of the honey produced in the hives. Hives can be harvested for honey for the first time after 3 to 4 months of colonization.  Thereafter, harvesting can be done every 1.5 months. Business owners were impressed with the issue of a ready market at a standard price of 170 KES per kg, a contract set up by Honeycare Africa. Village Enterprise is very hopeful about this new endeavor and has created a plan to disburse beehives to 160 business groups around the Kisere Forest Reserve in Kenya.

Group of African women dancing and holding a sign reading "sponsored by Village Enterprise and Safaricom Foundation"

Honeycare Africa has been an essential partner, contributing extensive beehive management training for our business mentors and owners as well as connecting business owners to a guaranteed market. The Overview of a Business in a Beehive training they conducted included five modules: what do bees needs, where do bees live, what does Honeycare Africa do, what do you as a farmer need to do, and then they provided a practical activity. This partnership could not have been formed without support from the Safaricom Foundation.  Safricom is a major Kenyan telecom company, which is most famous for its M-Pesa mobile banking system and its reliable and affordable telephone services.  Less famous, however, is the influential work that the Safaricom Foundation is doing to help the communities in which it works. Village Enterprise is delighted to broadcast how the Safaricom Foundation forged our partnership with Honeycare Africa by funding the purchase of 86 beehives!

Zaheed Suleman-Arain speaking in Kenya's villageBecause of the buzzzz generated from this exciting partnership, Village Enterprise decided to host a celebration for the first disbursement of the beehives. This event brought together honorable guests from Safaricom, Honeycare Africa, the Kenyan Wildlife Service, and the local government to watch as 10 bright yellow Village Enterprise stamped beehives were installed.  At the celebration, we had a few speakers. First, the Village Enterprise Kisere Regional Manager, Selina Otima welcomed our guests and explained the significance of this new Business-In-A-Box project. Next, Wilson Peru, the Village Enterprise Kenya Country Director and Zaheed Suleman-Arain of Safricom spoke together to show their support of the initiative.  Finally, the Assistant Warden of the Kakamega Forest National Reserve expressed the usefulness of the beehive businesses for conservation purposes in preventing businesses that exploit the forest resources.

It was a great moment to see the collaboration of government, nonprofit, and corporate employees in order to help the local community and environment.

bees in a beehiveWe also learned some great facts about bees! Did you know bees hate perfume? Or how about this tip…if bees swarm your head, all you have to do is raise your hands near your face to break their communication with each other and calmly walk away.

In the following days, the other 76 beehives were installed in groups of 5, creating a total of 16 apiaries.  The entire week was a celebration and full of energy, both for our staff and partners as well as the business owners.

Thankfully nobody wore perfume, and there were no stings.  All in all, it was a very sweet week.

Selina Otima

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