Having stumbled into honey production, engineer Alan Chanda put together a proposal to train farmers from an area close to the eastern edge of Kafue National Park in bee keeping and honey production, an area where it is possible to have two harvest per year. 50% of the out-growers recruited were women, a departure from Zambian traditional practice.
Using his engineering skills, Alan designed a new hive that lifted yields from 20kg per season to 50kg. Needless to say, all the farmers were clamouring for the new hives but that was a problem. How was he going to finance them? Alan also wanted to add value by making honey-based products but that too would take money for plant and machinery. In addition, he needed cash to buy more honey if he wanted to expand his business.
That was when he heard about the Nyamuka Zambia business plan competition with a top prize of K250,000 ($25,000). The rest, as they say, is history.
A few brief weeks later Alan was through to the semi-finals where he was paired with a personal business adviser and developed a robust business plan. Before he knew it he was a prize-winning finalist with K200,000 ($20,000) for achieving 2nd place.
How did Alan invest his Nyamuka Zambia winnings? Hives made at an economically viable price was his No. 1 priority and he came up with a great solution: to use construction timber offcuts and have his hives built by training workshops in trade schools and institutes. By the end of 2016, 10,000 hives had already been produced with another 25,000 due in 2017.
Alan used some of the winnings to invest in funding honey stocks and packaging. He has also invested in equipment for making granulated honey, sweets and lozenges and is now working on the launch of his new products.
After his Nyamuka Zambia success, the competition team introduced Alan to PEPZ Business Linkages who, in turn, introduced him to a major retailer who is now stocking Alan’s Sweet Harvest brand. This led to a bulk supply export contract to South Africa and the promise of more to come. The PEPZ team is now helping Alan with HACCP risk control certification, necessary for any food producer wishing to export to Europe, as well as supporting him with his quest to achieve registered organic status.
Before Nyamuka Zambia Alan produced 2 tonnes of honey a year. By 2016 that had shot up to 160 tonnes. In 2 short years, through hard work, application and with help from Nyamuka and PEPZ, Alan has transformed his business from a fledgling enterprise to a substantial supplier entering into the world market.
Key success points
- Production grows from 2 tonnes to 160 tonnes in 2 years
- Gains listings for Sweet Harvest honey in two major supermarket chains
- Grows number of outgrowers from 400 to 1,600
- Export contract for honey to South Africa