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Empowering women through beekeeping

Fifty women in rural Burkina Faso are paving the way for future generations of female beekeepers in their community.

The group of women, who previously struggled to provide for their families, now hope to triple their average earnings, and teach others how to produce honey in a clean and safe way through modern bee hives.

Carrying hives to forest

This comes after a year-long project funded by a CAF client and carried out on the ground by local organisation PNCE-BF in partnership with UK based charity Shared Interest Foundation, an organisation that supports the development of sustainable businesses to empower communities and improve livelihoods.

Now, the hope is that this project will have long-lasting positive impact for the women and their families.

Fatoumata Ouattara, 34, one of the beekeepers, said: “Before this project I was not positive about the future and the biggest challenge I faced was securing a future for my children. Now I have this opportunity to earn an income I will be able to pay for the health and schooling expenses for my children and provide them with three meals per day so they can concentrate better in their class.”

Abitata Ouattara, 29, who is also involved in the project, said: “Together we can ensure the availability of honey for the entire community and improve the economic situation of the area. I hope to see the women of the group fighting for a change.”

Trevor Dickety, who funded the project, chose the charity with the help of his CAF client manager.

After speaking with the organisation and reviewing their proposal for the project, Trevor made a donation of £30,000 using his CAF Charitable Trust, and an additional £20,000 from other sources (including £4,000 in gift aid). 

The funding has helped to transform traditional beekeeping methods by equipping each of the women with five modern bee hives, as well as training on how to sustain their bee population to sell honey to the local market or to larger buyers.

The donation has also been used to plant 1,000 Moringa trees, which are helping to increase local biodiversity, attract bees, and provide shade so that crops can be grown underneath them.

The trees, which are drought-resistant, are also providing the women with an additional income source as their nutritionally rich leaves can be dried and sold on the local market.

Its leaves are also used in herbal medicine, and its seed pods and oil can be used for cooking purposes.

Beekeepers

Speaking to CAF, Trevor said: “I think this project really ticked all the boxes because beekeeping is really low cost, but can make a huge difference in people’s lives.

“The best thing about it is that the beehives will last 15 - 20 years so I’m hoping that even once the funded project ends, the women will be able to transfer the knowledge to other villages.”

Harriet Urwin, from Shared Interest Foundation, said: “Before we launched this project some of the group were practicing beekeeping however, a lot of honey produced wasn’t viable and was of very poor quality and only suitable for home consumption. This was due to the quality of the traditional hives, often constructed from old water containers, which had to be destroyed after each harvest. The new beehives are much cleaner and the honey can be harvested safely now. The whole process has really empowered the women to want to take this on themselves and pave the way for others, which is great to see.”

Shared Interest Foundation supports businesses and communities across Africa and Latin America.

In addition to this project called ’Bees for Business‘ in Burkina Faso, the organisation delivers a multitude of projects including ‘Crafting Fairer Futures’, which supports women to sell their handcrafts in central Eswatini.

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