Helen lives and works outside of Sindo, in Homa Bay County. Homa Bay County is located in southwestern Kenya, close to both the Tanzanian border and Lake Victoria, Africa's largest lake. Despite the proximity to the lake, water infrastructure in Homa Bay remains quite undeveloped, and inconsistent rains and occasional droughts make life difficult for farmers in the area. Nonetheless, farmers have adapted to these challenges, particularly by diversifying their crops to include cassava, sunflower, sorghum, bananas, groundnuts and millet, as well as drought-resistant varieties of papaya and mangoes. Although beekeeping has not traditionally been practiced in the region, many individuals have expressed interest in keeping bees and are knowledgeable about their pollination benefits.
Helen is married and has nine children. Both Helen and her husband farm, but also have businesses on the side: Helen sells fish and her husband works in a livestock business. Helen has been farming for 10 years and is currently growing millet, lentils, groundnuts, maize and mangoes on her land. She also tends to dairy goats, cows and poultry.
This is Helen’s first loan and she plans to use the income generated by her hives to help pay her children’s school fees and to invest in new crops like sunflowers, which she says will help her bees and increase her income. Helen’s hope for the future is to grow her small business and receive training in business management, eventually reaching a level where she can become a trainer of trainers.
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.