Honey Pride Arua, a private organization started in 2015 by Sam Aderubo offered an innovative approach to inclusive economic development across the region of Arua, Uganda. Specializing in honey, the organization aims to construct sustainable markets for beekeeping and production, alongside raising awareness amongst local farmers of the commercial potentials of beekeeping.
A comprehensive program offers education on all aspects of beekeeping and the honey production process, from apiary management to the packaging and distribution of goods. Through this, the organization enables existing local farmers and anyone with a desire or interest to enter into beekeeping to convert their hobbies into economic output, sustaining themselves and their families.
As Betty Ayikoru, a local beekeeper and councilor outlined beekeeping benefits communities in more ways than selling honey. Honey Pride Arua has grown commercially in the scale of operations and income, but what is more significant is the effect this has on the surrounding community and stakeholders.
Today working with more than 1,700 farmers – 30% women and 60% youth, the organization makes emphasis on targeting marginalized members of the community. A holistic and immensely effective approach in addressing local unemployment by gearing their project to those in the community most likely to be unemployed, or equipped on average with lower prospects.
Honey Pride is also noted for the inclusion and support of refugees in economic activity for local development. Arua, in Northern Uganda, is a region largely populated with refugees compared to other parts of the country. Honey Prides’ inclusivity played a key role in gaining external funding from the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).
Stable markets offer stable incomes and Honey Pride’s activity has helped local farmers put children through school, financially sustain households and their families, as well as offering a nutritious element to their diet, according to a U.N. News podcast.
Previously it was difficult to find a reliable market with stable prices to sell one’s honey in Arua. However, prospects for beekeepers have drastically changed since Honey Pride entered the industry. Delivering on one of its central tenets, a stable honey market has emerged across the region. A kilogram of honey in 2015 was worth 3,500 Ugandan Shillings, today the market price is around 7,000 Shillings per kilogram. Encouraging statistics motivates many young members of the community to venture into beekeeping.
Another noteworthy aspect of Honey Pride’s operations is the efficiency of its practices. The organization works to eliminate waste by offering excess produce and residue to the community to fertilize local gardens and land, as well as feed livestock, according to a U.N. News podcast.
The most significant challenge to the organization has been financial. As Sam Aderubo himself states in the podcast, “finance is the lifeline of a business.” The organization in its early years, like most small Ugandan businesses, was unable to get investment from commercial banks. Aware of its social impacts and inclusivity practices focused on a community-benefit model, the UNCDF found a worthy beneficiary, investing over $117,000 to help Honey Pride Arua reach a certain threshold at which it will begin to attract investment from larger commercial banks and private equity firms.
This came in the form of loans for processing equipment and operations, alongside technical assistance and support in designing a sustainable and viable business model. Through these efforts, Honey Pride procured the likes of professional filtering equipment, an electric honey press for the extraction process and eight honey settling tanks each with a capacity of 1,000kg, UNCDF reported.
A direct impact of such measures saw a substantial increase in output from three to five tonnes per month post-investment, which, according to UNCDF, in 2021 amounted to a monthly increase in income by over $8,000.
Following the successful implementation of these loans in growing the organization, in the case of Honey Pride, several private equity firms have since displayed an interest in investing, offering a blueprint for further upscaling and aligning the company for greater success in the future, according to the U.N. News podcast.
What the Future Holds
Further expansion and entry into new markets is the next step for Honey Pride, having met international standards with its product. With increases in output and income, Honey Pride can begin to invest more in outreach and marketing, further consolidating the stability of local markets in addition to developing foreign ones as well.
Looking ahead, Honey Pride Arua aims to implement a program to equip local farmers or those with a desire to venture into beekeeping with the required equipment and facilities. This way, it is helping to establish more local beekeeping businesses that return on the investment they received from Honey Pride through their yield. An innovative, circular model of business. As Honey Pride grows commercially, its inclusive practices and reach spread, benefiting ever greater numbers of people.
– Bojan Ivancic