The ‘Bees with Stories’ Mission
Our Mission is to transform beekeeping in Africa by allowing African beekeepers to sell their products to customers around the world through our brand. We seek to bring additional income to farmers in Africa to help them diversify their source of income, become less vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks, and support their households. Accomplishing this would not only translate into additional income for African beekeepers but also promote forest conversation.
We do this in two ways by:
1. Developing a branding and marketing strategy, and establishing a distribution network for the ‘Bees with Stories’ products, and
2. Technically assisting local partners in crafting solutions to overcome technical bottlenecks and deficiencies encountered by beekeepers at country level.
How it all started…
‘Bees with Stories’ began with a random encounter in Lusaka, Zambia. In May 2016, I was strolling through the aisle of a crafts market, hoping to purchase little trinkets to take back to Mauritius, when this charismatic stranger approached me. We started talking and I found out about his work as a conservation economist. We discussed our mutual interests in Ethiopia for a while. It was during that conversation that I learnt that beekeeping is an activity promoted among remote communities as an alternative to woodcutting as part of forest conservation work.
This discovery piqued my interest. Having worked and lived in different African countries as an international development practitioner, I remembered tasting local honey wherever I went and enjoying its taste. But you could never find these honey varietals outside of their country of production. It made me wonder: how come we can find Manuka honey throughout the world, yet we never come across any African honey brand outside of Africa.
I was intrigued and started researching the topic. Desk research was not enough. A few months later, I packed my bags and went to Ethiopia and Madagascar to gather information from people working along the apiculture value chain. I spoke to beekeepers, processors, packers, distributors, retailers and consumers. From all this, I was convinced that—despite the many bottlenecks along the value chain—the potential to transform African apiculture and put African honey varietals on the map was one I had to explore. Accomplishing this would not only translate into additional income for African beekeepers but also promote forest conversation. This inherent symbiotic nature of beekeeping was all I needed to take the next step, which was to develop my own project about transforming African beekeeping.
This is how the business model for ‘Bees with Stories’ came about…
This was in 2017. Fast forward to 2019. I now have my own apiary in Mauritius, with a newly set up processing site. I also work with beekeepers in Ethiopia, Madagascar and Tanzania from whom I sourced different honey varietals. With each trip and collaboration, I continue to be inspired by the beekeepers I meet and I look forward to working with them to develop the value chain further.
As I write this, I am reminded of that random encounter in Lusaka, Zambia. To the stranger who planted the seed that led to ‘Bees with Stories’ – Thank you!