In the Maasai communities surrounding &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, families depend on their cattle for their household income. The sale of a medium sized cow can provide around 20 000 Kenyan Shillings (approx. USD 200), to sustain the family, but what happens when that money is depleted and you need a few thousand shillings for books for your child’s education or a school uniform. This is a scenario that many families in the villages around &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tempted Camp face. The result is often that the child misses out on school because the household cash flow does not account for the small additional costs that crop up throughout the year.
The business of selling honey started with a group of ladies who wanted to overcome the financial challenges that were holding their family back. Working with &Beyond’s development partner Africa Foundation, a sustainable business plan was constructed and co-ops of 20 ladies were formed. Thanks to the generosity of Africa Foundation donors, the co-ops were provided with beehives, which were hung in the bushes in their villages. Each group received 25 hives which they manage collectively, along with protective clothing and training for the ladies to safely and efficiently harvest the honey.
The close partnership between the community, Africa Foundation and &Beyond created the opportunity for the ladies to negotiate the sale of the honey that they produced to the &Beyond lodges. &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp had been sourcing honey from Nairobi and saw this as a wonderful enterprise through which the camp could support the local community, and provide guests with the real taste of locally produced honey – a win-win situation. The honey requirements for &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp has ensured the constant support for both the Enkereri and Enkutoto village beekeeping cooperatives.
During rainy season, the honey is harvested from the hives and the beekeepers extract the thick and sticky liquid gold that the bees have produced, leaving a portion behind to feed the colony.
One hive harvests around 10 litres (15kg of honey), which the ladies bring in their canisters to the camp. This product represents the work of thousands of bees and the nectar of many millions of flowers in the bush. At &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp processing equipment is in place for the preparation and purification of the honey before bottling into 250 ml containers. The containers are sold to the camp, and they purchase them all. Fortunately honey stores well, so as the seasons change, this sweet nectar tastes delicious year round in the camp restaurant. Guests truly get a taste of two million local flowers when they stay at &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp. The beekeepers return home with empty canisters and the profits from a business, with only the overheads of their transport to the camp and the bottling containers. These profits enable them to manage their household expenses throughout the year, and ensure that their children have everything necessary to optimise their schooling experience.