A woman entrepreneur embarks on the production of flavored honey | New times
Jeanne Sheila Uwibona, a Rwandan woman entrepreneur, has launched a honey processing facility in Kinyinya sector, Gasabo district, aimed at modernizing the added value of honey and beekeeping.
Uwibona started the honey business by buying from other people and cooperatives, then obtained land in Kabuga, Gasabo district, where she set up her own apiary with a few beehives.
Currently she said To do business, that it has 260 modern beehives which supply the honey processing facility under the brand name âShelia’s Honey Processing Facilityâ located in
The honey business grew into a sustainable business after her social enterprise, Women Farmers Enterprise, which she started supporting vulnerable groups in the community.
She started a business to supply vegetables and fruit to restaurants in Kigali City in 2017.
Uwibona uses 10 percent of its profits to support women with disabilities, women living with HIV / AIDS and children born with the virus, among others.
âI thought of a sustainable business – a honey business – that could improve my financial capacity to support such people. I currently produce 12 honey processing products including pure honey as well as honey flavored with chili, ginger, garlic, moringa, sesame, chocolate, tiger nut, macadamia, among others. She said.
She said the products were in high demand, adding that she was looking to tap into the export market.
Honey processing plant produces 12 honey products
She said she is working with three beekeeping cooperatives, adding that she plans to open honey collection points across the country in every district.
âWe also need to train beekeepers in modernizing the sector to obtain sufficient quantity and quality products to generate profits. This is because there is a market for honey but the production is not sufficient to meet the demand, âshe said.
The lack of adequate knowledge and information on beekeeping, the use of traditional beehives and pesticides remain the main challenges causing low honey production in Rwanda.
According to figures from the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board, current honey production is estimated at only 5,600 metric tonnes per year against a demand of 17,000 tonnes.
Jeanne Sheila Uwibona and Chester Leer, shareholder of the honey processing plant in the Kinyinya sector, Gasabo district.
In June 2014, Rwanda obtained accreditation to export the product to the EU after its honey was found to meet the required quality standards.
However, low production continued to deprive the country of potential foreign exchange earnings.
Figures show that in fiscal year 2019/20, Rwanda exported 3,319 kilograms of honey to the EU, generating $ 14,035 (around 13 million Rwf).
Uwibona said the beekeeping cooperatives she works with deliver between 500 and 1,000 kilograms of honey every week to her processing plant.
âI urge beekeepers to increase honey production and adopt best practices in harvesting, transportation and storage to ensure quality,â she said.
She noted that pesticides are among the main threats to honey production.
âWe must avoid farming near the apiary. Instead, we should be planting trees and vegetation that attract bees, âshe said.
She said the bees also needed food, adding that she fed on food imported from Egypt.
The entrepreneur currently employs 20 people in the honey processing chain.
âWe are working closely with the Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority and the Rwanda Standards Board to ensure the quality and standards of our products,â she said.
Earlier this year, Uwibona received a shareholder, named Chester Leer.
âI came from the United States in March to seek to do business in Rwanda,â he said, explaining how he met Uwibona and discussed partnership.
âFrom the beekeeping farm, we now have a honey processing facility,â he said, adding that they were also working with beekeeper cooperatives to get enough raw materials.
According to the figures, there are over 83,000 beekeepers in the country and 465,000 hives including 300,000 traditional hives (log hives), 75,000 langstroth hives and 90,000 top bar hives last year.