Running a Rural Enterprise During a Pandemic

Serengeti, home of the world’s greatest migration, also boasts an ideal climate, excellent soil for agriculture and growing economic opportunities. Despite these advantages, many of its residents live in extreme poverty. Amos Masana Matiko used to be one of these individuals –living on less than $1 a day despite having tried his hand at farming, livestock keeping, selling secondhand clothing and even gold mining.

The Grumeti Fund through our Community Outreach Program is keen to alleviate poverty and uplift the livelihoods of the communities around us. As such, we sought to explore the beekeeping industry as a viable economic opportunity for local entrepreneurs. We developed a honey pressing house to help beekeepers process and package their honey, ready for market. We called for individuals to apply for the opportunity to run the honey house and Amos stood out among many entrepreneurs and was selected.

To that effect, in March 2019, Amos was enrolled in our high-touch rural enterprise acceleration Guiding program. Through the Guiding program, Amos learnt the four important pillars of business –strategy, finance, sales & marketing, and personal development- as well as obtained an initial investment of all the equipment necessary to start and operate the honey house.

Amos’ honey house has been in operation since June 2019 and has already made money. However, Amos’ journey in beekeeping started back in 2010, when he and other members of the Bonchugu Community Group received beekeeping training from the Grumeti Fund. In the early days, he only had 5 beehives, and by 2018 he had grown his farm to 50 top bar hives bought at a subsidized price from Grumeti Fund. By late 2019, he had added 25 commercial hives without the Grumeti Fund’s support, a testament of his great success as an entrepreneur.

   

In a conversation with us, Amos said:

“I’m grateful to the Grumeti Fund for not only introducing me to beekeeping and selling subsidized beehives but also for the new honey pressing equipment. And even more importantly, the invaluable entrepreneurial business support training which has opened my eyes to the world of running a commercial enterprise. Through the Guiding program, I managed to register my company with the relevant authorities and now I’m able to proudly say I have a legitimate business. Masana Serengeti Natural Honey now trades with big companies. We produce, press and sell honey from our own hives and also for other beekeepers’ hives in Serengeti. This feat is one I couldn’t have even dreamt of achieving without the support of Grumeti Fund.

I’m still part of the Guiding program because I believe I have a lot to learn before my time in the program runs out. I have big plans, and with the training and technical support that I continue to receive, I believe I’ll get there. I’m now getting help to set up the company’s website and social media which will help me reach and trade with customers from all over the world.

With increased revenue, I’ll be able to hire permanent staff and buy more honey from the beekeepers which in turn will increase their income, create employment, protect the environment and improve the standard of living for our community.”

With increased revenue, I’ll be able to hire permanent staff and buy more honey from the beekeepers which in turn will increase their income, create employment, protect the environment and improve the standard of living for our community.”

With almost a year in the program, Amos has had his fair share of challenges: low harvest caused by excessive rain, inconsistent transportation for honeycombs and inaccessibility of quality packaging materials. But, his biggest challenge yet has been the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

Amos further says:

“Before COVID-19, my honey sales turnover was not less than 100Kg a month but now my sales are down by 70% because my business model is a B2B model, with a niche market in the tourism industry. But since this pandemic started, all the hotels and lodges which I supply to have been closed, and my bottom line has been really affected. On top of that, my interactions with clients have been limited and I haven’t been able to have face to face guiding sessions with my business coach. However, thanks to mobile phone technology I’ve managed to keep in touch with my guide who has helped me pivot my business strategy and shift to a B2C model targeting retail clients and most importantly remain calm during this time.”

In addition, Amos said, “I am really grateful that the Grumeti Fund has kept in touch and been very supportive during this very difficult time without which, a rookie business owner like myself could not survive.”

Amos’ advice to all entrepreneurs out there is that “while this pandemic has caused a lot of doom and gloom, in time the sun will shine once again very soon. Stay calm, be safe and protect yourself as well as others and stay strong.”

At this time, Grumeti Fund staff continue to support all entrepreneurs in our Guiding programs via phone in order to make sure they make it through the pandemic and come out stronger when it is over.

This article was originally posted on Singita Grumeti Fund – https://www.grumetifund.org/blog/updates/running-a-rural-enterprise-during-a-pandemic/



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