In Uganda, the Budongo Women Bee Enterprise accelerates the use of sustainable practices to generate income. Over 100 members of the Budongo Women Bee Enterprise manage over 20 beehives, in addition to processing and manufacturing beekeeping equipment. Women pay a fee to join the co-operative, in return for beekeeping training and equipment. The participants then sell their honey and beeswax back to the association, which markets the resulting honey and mosquito-repellant candles in the Budongo sub-county Masindi District. The collective business model also creates shared marketing, business training and support among the women. The initiative is building a local economy that can provide sustainable jobs for more than 60% of the community, and increase the income of farmers by 40%. These alternate revenue streams can help farmers move beyond subsistence farming, and provide many women with an alternative to working in distant sugar cane fields, away from their families.
In addition to acting as a means of community development, the Enterprise improves the local environment through the reforestations, sustainable land use practices and energy-saving technologies, such as efficient stoves. It also helps increase resilience to the impacts of climate change on agriculture; with sustainable beekeeping practices, women can contribute to the stability of their future income while also addressing the immediate needs of their families.
This initiative was funded in 2012 by Safeplan Uganda, a community-based organization that works to provide education and professional opportunities to people in rural communities, especially women and children. The Masindi branch of the Uganda Small Scale Industries Association helps link the Enterprise with markets and buyers for its products, and, along with the Uganda Industrial Research Institute, supports training in business and technical skills. In the coming years, the Enterprise plans to increase its production capacity, recruit new members, and invest in more modern processing, packaging, and storage equipment for honey and candle production. An increasing demand for honey products, as well as for products, like mosquito-repellent candles, that help fight the spread of malaria, can help drive this growth. Strong management and technical staff are also vital to secure the longevity of the enterprise if it is to expand, and to tackle persistent barriers such as financing, inadequate technologies, and poor infrastructure.
Case study written by Allison Khoe, based on correspondence with Birungi Annet, Executive Secretary at Safeplan Uganda, and on research shared by Friederike Eichhorn and Sander Chan at the German Development Institute (DIE).
Image: Examining beekeeping equipment. Photo courtesy of Safeplan Uganda.