Beekeeping was one of the Trust’s first community projects. We have 74 beehives, owned by 75 women in three women’s groups. The hives were initially kept on community land but faced several challenges: access across other people’s land was restricted and a company from Nairobi harvested the honey, with the ladies being paid a low rate per kilo.
In 2015 we recalled all of the hives, refurbished them and relocated them inside the conservancy at ranger posts, providing excellent security. We received a generous donation from Africa Exchange for all of the equipment needed to harvest and bottle the honey ourselves, and we trained one of our team members, Ntimama Maatany, in professional beekeeping. The women members of this project help Ntimama to bottle and decorate the organic honey produced from their hives, which The Maa Trust then sells on their behalf to camps and lodges throughout the Mara. This enables us to complete the process in-house, ensuring that the women who own the hives receive 100% of the profits.
Our first harvest sold out before we could even bottle it, and we are very excited for the next wild blossom to bloom across the Mara so that the hives will fill again with delicious, organic Maa Honey.
The women in this social enterprise, like Maa Beadwork, have self-identified their priority list of items to save up for with their earnings, which will make all the difference to their lives, work load and family health. Their groups operate micro-finance schemes, from which members can take loans to start small businesses. Or, if the women want to save up for a water tank, for example, they will all collectively save up for and invest in one tank at a time for each lady/household/family. By working together in this way, big changes happen fast and every week a new water tank is bought, and within a few months the community achieve a dream investment that would otherwise have taken years for individuals to save up for. Such purchases can transform the lives of women, who spend hard hours every day carrying water from rivers, which may be contaminated. Harvesting rainwater from the roofs of their houses provides a clean, safe and reliable alternative and frees up hours in every day, which also allows women to be more economically active if they would like to be.