The kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) has struggled the past two years with pandemic-related illnesses and political unrest. As schools and businesses shut down, incomes dropped and prices soared in this small nation in Southern Africa.
AfricaWorks in Eswatini (AWS), a long-time partner of Partners Worldwide, has had to pivot and persevere in weathering this storm. At stake are small-scale farmers and their families in the rural, marginalized communities that AWS serves. From poultry to puffed corn and citrus to honey, AWS has pivoted multiple times as they seek to help these farmers increase production and access markets that will grow incomes, sustain families, and lift communities out of poverty.
Currently, AWS sources honey from over 300 small-scale farmers living in remote communities with high rates of poverty and few options for employment or income generation. AWS provides technical assistance on production, as well as processing to refine and package the honey and provide access to the top markets in the nation. In the last year, AWS honey has achieved status as the #1 selling honey in large supermarkets in Eswatini—with prime shelf space and a growing customer base.
With support from the P&G Alumni Foundation Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, AWS is able to build and distribute more beehives! This will double the number of farmers producing honey to meet the growing demand of this market and increase family incomes.
Recently, AWS began distributing the new hives and providing technical training on bee care and honey production for the farmers. In the midst of a difficult season in a nation with pre-pandemic poverty rates over 58%, the potential to add up to $90 per year to family incomes with the addition of two beehives is an exciting opportunity!
The AWS team also recognizes that margins are tight and every market disruption increases business risk. Augustine Banga, the AWS Manager, reflected on this season:
“God called me to give this work my all, to serve God and my neighbors. We have a dedicated team who is committed to persevere through these times, to continue to provide opportunities and access for those who have few other options to feed and care for their families."