Purchasing honey is expensive for ordinary Rwandans. In this blog, Shafi talks about how DOT’s StartUp! program empowered him to venture into honey harvesting. Today at just 23, Shafi runs his own company. His company harvests and sells honey, beeswax, and pollen jelly. Shafi has become a role model for other young beekeepers in Rwanda.
Purchasing honey is expensive for ordinary Rwandans. In this blog, Shafi talks about how DOT’s StartUp! program empowered him to venture into honey harvesting. Today at just 23, Shafi runs his own his company. His company harvests and sells honey, beeswax, and pollen jelly. Shafi has become a role model for other young beekeepers in Rwanda.
Shafi harvesting honey
Shafi has been asthmatic all his life and used raw honey to provide relief for his symptoms. As a child, Shafi watched his parents struggle to get honey for his treatment. The high cost of honey meant that his parents had to make many financial sacrifices for his health.
This conundrum pushed him to think about entrepreneurship and join DOT Rwanda's StartUp! program. StartUp! pushed him to start creating a backyard beehive at his parents’ home to use for himself. He soon discovered that his backyard beehive could generate income and help his asthma. While he was gaining business skills, he was also developing and building his business. People around him wanted raw honey for treatment and consumption, and he was able to provide it.
Pollen jelly made by Shafi
“StartUp! training helped me figure out that my product could make a profit and help my community. Children with asthma could access raw honey without their parents suffering huge financial losses.”
During StartUp! training, Shafi learned about testing the first version of his product on the market. He adopted the approach to get feedback on the attractiveness of his project.
“Testing the first version of my honey on the market introduced me to good business practices. It also helped me determine if my beekeeping project would work and meet the needs of my consumers.”
Feeling confident after StartUp!, Shafi decided to enter into the DOT’s Business Plan Competition. He emerged the winner at district (Ngoma) level. This allowed him to go through to the national competition. He had the opportunity to interact with young DOT entrepreneurs from across the country.
At the national competition, Shafi was the second runner-up. His award went into reinvesting in his beekeeping business. The business study tours for contestants of the competition were also a valuable asset. He gained in-depth knowledge and insight into what an established beekeeping business looked like.
“I have brought the source of nectar close to my hives. Honeybees travel up to two miles to collect nectar. The honey production is best if your hive is closer to nectar sources. DOT’s coaches who encouraged me to do online deep research, and for this I am grateful. With their help and support, I built up strategies to increase production"
Shafi is currently establishing a network of beekeepers in his district. The initiative will help him build their capacity and support each other. They will also learn how to increase their production and access larger markets.
“The DOT Rwanda's Business Plan Competition made a huge difference in promoting my business. It was my first opportunity to introduce my business and sell good quality of honey in a short time. The competition took me as an entrepreneur to a level I never thought I would be.”