In February 2020, the years 2020 to 2030 were declared as the new Decade of Women’s Financial and Economic Inclusion by the member states of the African Union. In committing to this decade, the AU was quite keen to immediately start working on recommendations for the expansion of opportunities for women entrepreneurs in the continent, making them key players in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).

    The continental market promises to provide prospects for women to make a meaningful contribution and improve the situation of their trade conditions across the continent. Investing in African women entrepreneurs is a smart and innovative approach, especially for women living in rural areas, as this is one of the key solutions to the recovery of the African economy post the CoVID-19 pandemic. One of the sectors that women play a critical role in and is set to make a contribution to the economy to also improve the lives of many, is the growing and budding business of apiculture, the official term for beekeeping or honey farming.

    Mainly used to make our teas sweeter, heal a sore throat and sometimes included in skincare products, the yellow-gold colored liquid known as honey has so many uses. A Google search on its uses presents an over-abundance of articles and tips on how to use it. However, what is slowly becoming the conversation on the continent is the business’ huge economic benefits and how the industry can be used to diversify income for the continent.

    Mmabatho (Portia) Morudi of The Village Market SA

    After handing in notice and leaving her job to start her journey to becoming a beekeeper at her grandfather’s appeal in 2012, Mmabatho Morudi noticed that the livelihood of bees is threatened in South Africa and the country did not produce sufficient honey. What also caught her attention was how farmers in her community could use assistance with regards to improving their produce due to insufficient marketing of their goods. This is how she came up with the creative idea to provide a solution whilst learning about the industry simultaneously.

    The idea was to educate and empower these agriculturalists with beehives to assist in pollinating their produces and improve crop yield. Once the produce was gathered Morudi would purchase it from the agriculturalists, package it, and deliver to customers. It became a successful and unique business model. Currently she is touring different rural communities and empowering them by giving allowing them to make honey that they can sell back.

    Every produce from Morudi’s business is part of an ecosystem that provides a solution to the ever growing challenges of food insecurity, poverty and nutrition, unemployment and environmental issues. By training and empowering agriculturalists in ecological beekeeping, she is playing her part by changing one rural community at a time throughout South Africa, creating a better future for generations.

    Madvee Muthu of Bees with Stories
    Bees with Stories is a new and innovative business, that was registered in January 2018, by Mauritian Madvee Muthu. The Bees with Stories is a brand of bee products obtained and exported exclusively from Africa. The brand has a very specific vision: to have Bees with Stories products be present on all first-class markets, not just to add to the emergent narrative that African products can be both of excellent quality and appealing to the eye, but also be profitable for the communities behind it. The Bees with Stories business model is relatively easy, it is based on two pillars: The first is to create a branding and marketing strategy, form a dissemination network for export-ready beekeeper groups to sell products to; the second is to join forces with resident technical associates and beekeeper groups, to advance their methods to become export ready.

    Apart from Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania which produce the majority of the continent’s honey, other large markets are coming up like Nigeria and South Africa. The growing sector has a bright future globally that could be an opportunity for Africa to tap further into the honey business and its products.