Washington D.C., January 7, 2003—Honey
Care Africa, an IFC-supported small business whose supply chain has doubled
the incomes of some of Kenya’s poorest people, is the winner of a prestigious
United Nations sustainable development award.
The firm has received the Equator Prize, a US$30,000 cash award honoring
community-based poverty reduction initiatives in countries on or near the
Equator, home to the world’s greatest concentrations of both biological
wealth and human poverty. Earlier this year the collaboration between Honey
Care and its NGO partner Africa Now received $85,000 in capacity building
support from Project IDEAS, a $1 million initiative to support innovations
in small business development jointly funded by IFC’s SME Capacity Building
Facility and George Soros’ Open Society Institute.
“The Equator Prize is an important recognition of the work that Honey
Care has been doing in partnership with the donor community,” said Farouk
Jiwa, General Manager of Honey Care. “Our company has a very simple vision
that I know IFC shares. It’s about people, the planet and profits. We
believe that they can all co-exist and not be mutually exclusive.”
Honey Care was launched in 1999 by a group of socially responsible Kenyan
businessmen who were seeking to capitalize on opportunities presented by
Kenya’s underdeveloped beekeeping sector—both as a way to launch a profitable
new consumer product and to raise incomes of the country’s rural poor.
Since then the firm has introduced Kenyan small-scale farmers to commercial
beekeeping production methods used elsewhere around the world and successfully
built a market for their honey. This has been done though close collaboration
with Africa Now, a British NGO with long experience of carrying out rural
income generation projects in Kenya linked to the private sector.
“Investing in the capacity building of grassroots partnerships that reach
the poorest via commercially sound, market-based approaches is an important
part of our SME strategy, and Honey Care is a good example of positive
change that can stem from well-designed collaborations between the private
sector and NGOs,” said Harold Rosen, director of the World Bank Group
SME Department. “Although small, its impact on the lives of the poor people
who supply it is large, and we are glad to have supported it at this relatively
Honey Care’s business model enables local farmers to become beekeepers
via a small-scale financing program whereby their roughly $160 cost of
necessary equipment such as hives and protective suits is covered by future
sales of honey. Though at times there is individual ownership of hives,
the firm prefers to work via local community groups that enable farmers
to collectively lease or buy the equipment and receive Honey Care’s technical
and management training. Its partner Africa Now is also working to develop
this financing program into a sustainable microleasing scheme.
When these relationships are in place, Honey Care then provides a guaranteed
fair and mutually-agreeable price for every kilogram of honey produced.
After its ‘Money for Honey’ system pays rural beekeepers in cash on the
day of collection, the firm processes and sells the honey in Kenyan supermarkets
for approximately $2.75 per jar. These innovations together have resulted
in much larger volumes of higher quality honey made in Kenya than before,
generating revenues for Honey Care of about $110,000 a year. Through its
work there are now over 2,500 small-scale farmers involved in beekeeping,
each one earning between $200-250 per year—generally double their previous
With the success of its operations has come a broadening of the company’s
goals and together with Africa Now, Honey Care is working toward a private
sector driven expansion of services to new beekeepers, overcoming trade
barriers in the European Union, development of the market for honey in
Kenya, and seeking fair trade accreditation.
The Equator Initiative is awarded by the United Nations Development Program
in partnership with Canada, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the Nature
Conservancy, and others. The jury awarding the prize to Honey Care and
26 other recipients included Nobel Peace Prize laureate H.E. Oscar Arias
Sanchez of Costa Rica, 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development Preparatory
Chairman Emil Salim of Indonesia, and others.
As a recipient of the Equator Prize, Honey Care will be involved in a 2003
campaign to improve community-to-community learning and the knowledge necessary
for advocacy and policy impact. In this way, lessons drawn from Honey Care
will be used to create an enabling environment for the transfer and adaptation
of its successful practices on a national and global scale.
IFC’s mission is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing
countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances
private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in
the international financial markets, and provides technical assistance
and advice to governments and businesses. Since its founding in 1956 through
FY02, IFC has committed more than $34 billion of its own funds and arranged
$21 billion in syndications for 2,825 companies in 140 developing countries.
IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY02 was $15.1 billion for its
own account and $6.5 billion held for participants in loan syndications.