When I was picking what to write a blog on this topic about, I knew it was something that would not only challenge my intellect but also push me out of my comfort zone. I have spent time researching and reading a lot on this topic and it is amazing just how valuable and educating it’s turned out to be. Looking at this topic helped me gain a deeper understanding of the business world.
I have been working with BeeSweet Ltd for three months now as part of my Challenges Worldwide placement and I can say it has been an exciting and enriching experience. BeeSweet is a honey-producing company providing a business alternative to charity for the local community. It is one of the fastest growing honey companies not only in Zambia but Africa as a whole. The company operates using a value based micro-franchise business model. It has developed a scalable and replicable business model that is not only producing high quality, certified organic honey for domestic retail and export but also saving trees and substantially increasing the incomes of rural farmers in Zambia. In the next few paragraphs, I will elaborate more on how the company operates and add value not only to every product they produce but also in the lives of each and every farmer they partner with.
“You’ve got to understand that what we are doing is nuts,” BeeSweet founding entrepreneur John Enright asserts. “We have made 50,000 beehives and we giving them all away – this is insane.”
The company has a well-developed relationship with the local farmers; they try to work with farmers in areas (called schemes) that are well suited for beekeeping. Each scheme is managed by a mentor who is elected by the farmers themselves – the mentor acts as a link between the farmers and the company, working hand in hand with harvesters. The company train and equip the mentor and his harvesters with necessary beekeeping skills. They are given the task of going round each scheme checking on the hives, making sure that all the hives are occupied by bees and later during harvest they help farmers harvest the honey. Everything from betting the hives, checking and harvesting are done by the mentor and his harvesters; the farmer will only need to take the honey to the collection point and the company will buy honey from all the farmers in that scheme according to the market price.
The honey is then transported back to the processing plant where it is processed and packaged both for retail and export sale. The company has put measures to ensure every bottle packaged in its processing plant contains nothing but high-quality honey with the great natural taste that has captured the hearts, minds, and wallets of customers.
This explains why a lot of companies are lining up to do business with BeeSweet. Consumers get value for their money from every BeeSweet product they purchase. Not only are they provided with great honey but each and every cent the company made is used to enrich the lives of local people by building schools, clinics and invested back in making more hives, thus increasing the number of farmers that the company conducts business with.
As a young Zambian citizen, I feel the Challenges Worldwide ICS programme has given me the rare opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the greatest business men inhabiting this country. I feel fortunate to have worked with a company whose business model has not only transformed my life but has given me a deeper understanding of the business world and the value a business can have on local people.