Alex lives in a small town outside of Kamukuywa, close to Kitale in the Trans-Nzoia district of western Kenya. At over 6,300 feet above sea level, Kamukuywa is one of Africa’s highest elevation towns. The rich soil of the area makes it one of the nation's biggest maize-producing regions, lending it the nickname of “the breadbasket of Kenya.” Once the maize has been harvested, many farmers grow sunflower on their land, which is an excellent source of forage for bees. Furthermore, many farmers have started projects planting bluegum trees, which complement the region’s natural forests and provide bees with a variety of food sources. Kitale is located close to Mount Elgon, an extinct shield volcano that extends into both Uganda and Kenya. The people from around Mount Elgon have been beekeeping for centuries, and the area is dense with strong bee colonies.
Alex is married, and has four children. His wife works as a business lady while he farms their land. He has been farming for over 30 years and is currently growing maize, bananas and coffee. He is also running a dairy farm. He likes working with Honey Care because "they have a ready market for my honey" and he likes the Kiva partnership because it has enabled him to get beehives on loan. Alex also likes beekeeping because "it is a low labor business and the returns are good. The apiary also takes a small section of my farm. It has also encouraged me to plan trees for conservation."
This is Alex's first loan, and he plans to use the income generated by his hives to expand his beekeeping "to produce maximum kilos of honey." In the future, Alex's dream is to educate his children "to a higher level."
About Honey Care Africa
Honey Care Africa (HCA) is a for-profit social enterprise that trains smallholder farmers to become commercial honey producers and provides ongoing support for hive owners. Founded in Kenya in 2000, it is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization and aims to increase the income of rural farmers throughout East Africa.
Kiva lenders’ funds will help HCA make loans in the form of a certain number of beehives per family to jumpstart income. This new approach will simplify the process of hive purchase and honey production and will enable HCA to reach many more farmers. Farmers will repay the organization the same way they would for a typical loan.
This Kiva loan will be used to provide borrowers with needed goods or services, as opposed to cash or financial credit.