|January 8, 2003—Honey Care Africa, an IFC-supported small business whose supply chain has doubled the incomes of some of Kenya’s poorest people, is the winner of a prestigious United Nations sustainable development award. |
The firm has received the Equator Prize, a US$30,000 cash award honoring community-based poverty reduction initiatives in countries on or near the Equator, home to the world’s greatest concentrations of both biological wealth and human poverty.
"The Equator Prize is an important recognition of the work that Honey Care has been doing in partnership with the donor community," said Farouk Jiwa, General Manager of Honey Care. "Our company has a very simple vision that I know IFC shares. It’s about people, the planet and profits. We believe that they can all co-exist and not be mutually exclusive."
Honey Care was launched in 1999 by a group of socially responsible Kenyan businessmen who were seeking to capitalize on opportunities presented by Kenya’s underdeveloped beekeeping sector—both as a way to launch a profitable new consumer product and to raise incomes of the country’s rural poor.
Since then the firm has introduced Kenyan small-scale farmers to commercial beekeeping production methods used elsewhere around the world and successfully built a market for their honey. This has been done though close collaboration with Africa Now, a British NGO with long experience of carrying out rural income generation projects in Kenya linked to the private sector.
"Investing in . . . grassroots partnerships that reach the poorest via commercially sound, market-based approaches is an important part of our SME strategy, and Honey Care is a good example of positive change that can stem from well-designed collaborations between the private sector and NGOs," said Harold Rosen, director of the World Bank Group SME Department. "Although small, its impact on the lives of the poor people who supply it is large, and we are glad to have supported it at this relatively early stage."
Honey Care’s business model enables local farmers to become beekeepers via a small-scale financing program whereby their roughly $160 cost of necessary equipment such as hives and protective suits is covered by future sales of honey. Though at times there is individual ownership of hives, the firm prefers to work via local community groups that enable farmers to collectively lease or buy the equipment and receive Honey Care’s technical and management training. Its partner Africa Now is also working to develop this financing program into a sustainable microleasing scheme.
When these relationships are in place, Honey Care then provides a guaranteed fair and mutually-agreeable price for every kilogram of honey produced. After its "Money for Honey" system pays rural beekeepers in cash on the day of collection, the firm processes and sells the honey in Kenyan supermarkets for approximately $2.75 per jar. These innovations together have resulted in much larger volumes of higher quality honey made in Kenya than before, generating revenues for Honey Care of about $110,000 a year. Through its work there are now over 2,500 small-scale farmers involved in beekeeping, each one earning between $200-250 per year—generally double their previous incomes.
With the success of its operations has come a broadening of the company’s goals and together with Africa Now, Honey Care is working toward a private sector driven expansion of services to new beekeepers, overcoming trade barriers in the European Union, development of the market for honey in Kenya, and seeking fair trade accreditation.
The Equator Initiative is awarded by the United Nations Development Program in partnership with Canada, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the Nature Conservancy, and others. The jury awarding the prize to Honey Care and 26 other recipients included Nobel Peace Prize laureate H.E. Oscar Arias Sanchez of Costa Rica, 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development Preparatory Chairman Emil Salim of Indonesia, and others.
As a recipient of the Equator Prize, Honey Care will be involved in a 2003 campaign to improve community-to-community learning and the knowledge necessary for advocacy and policy impact. In this way, lessons drawn from Honey Care will be used to create an enabling environment for the transfer and adaptation of its successful practices on a national and global scale.
For more information about the Equator Initiative, please click here
Beehives provided by the IFC-supported partnership of a Kenyan small business (Honey Care Africa) and a British NGO (Africa Now) enables Kenyan farmers to increase their income by producing honey.
Honey Care’s Nairobi factory bottles the honey purchased from the farmers and sells it in local markets for about $2.75.