How Kwizera’s gamble with honey grew from five beehives to beating millions | The New Times

Jean de Dieu Kwizera, the CEO and founder of Beegulf Ltd, started his business with five hives in 2019. He now makes a fortune from beekeeping, a business he runs in Gasabo and Gisagara districts.

Doing Business caught up with him when he exhibited a project that protects nature and bees during the very first Congress on Protected Areas in Africa (APAC) which took place in Kigali, from July 18 to 23.

His business idea started when he was at the University of Rwanda-College of Science and Technology. After graduation, he found a mentor who taught him the skills in beekeeping.

Later, he also began to train other people.

Jean de Dieu Kwizera, the founder and CEO of Beegulf Ltd Company.

“Of the fees that interns paid me, I bought five modern beehives that I started with. I bought them each for Rwf40,000. That is why I have requested the city of Kigali to give me the opportunity to use one of the state forests for beekeeping in Gasabo,” he said.

“I always wondered what I could do to create a job after graduation. It is not necessary to start with huge capital to do such business. I started with five modern beehives and currently have 50 modern beehives. I also have over 100 traditional beehives because they are inexpensive.”

Kwizera annually harvests between 1.5 tons (1,500 kilos) and 2.0 tons of honey, of which one kilo is sold for Rwf 8,000. He earns between Rwf 12 million and Rwf 16 million per year.

“My company plays a role in increasing the bee population as bees are pollinators for biodiversity and then monetize honey production and add value. There are business opportunities in nature-based projects for the youth,” he said.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a third of the world’s food production depends on bees pollination.

Bee populations are declining worldwide due to habitat loss, intensive farming practices, changes in weather patterns and overuse of agrochemicals such as pesticides.

Kwizera trains farmers in organic farming so that agrochemicals don’t kill bees.

“I also train young people and women on how to start a beekeeping business. I have trained more than 300 so far.”

His beekeeping business focuses on three components, including apitourism, which includes educational tours for beekeepers and those looking to invest in beekeeping. Then there is added value to honey and the making of basic materials that are used by beekeepers.

“I started making various products from bees such as candles, soaps, cosmetics and others using beeswax.”

Modern beehives, manufacturing bee suits

The entrepreneur also manufactures modern beehives and supplies them to beekeepers across the country.

So far, he has supplied about 500 modern hives, each selling between Rwf40,000 and Rwf55,000 and achieving total sales between Rwf20 million and Rwf27 million.

“I train people who buy my modern beehives to make beekeeping a viable business,” he said.

His firm also makes bee suits; the protective clothing that beekeepers wear, and has also produced a number of small honey filter machines.

“Normally one filter machine goes between Rwf 150,000 and Rwf 400,000 which is not affordable for small farmers.

“That’s why I use my innovation to make affordable small honey filter machines made from available materials such as wood and beeswax. It’s a creative solution because people were using mosquito nets that aren’t safe,” he said.

He currently works with 150 beekeepers across the country.

“They deliver the harvest to me and I process it for the market. They have already delivered two tons this season.”

Expansion of activities in the Gisagara . district

Kwizera told Doing Business that he landed a €3,000 grant during the competition in June.

“I am using the money to expand my business in the Gisagara district. I have installed 20 traditional hives there and plan to install at least 100 modern hives. There is both a local and an export market opportunity.”

Figures from the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) indicate that current honey production is estimated at only 5,600 tons per year against a demand of 17,000 tons.

In June 2014, Rwanda was granted accreditation to export the product to the EU after it was found that the honey met the required quality standards. However, low output continued to deny the country potential foreign exchange earnings.

Figures show that Rwanda exported 3,319 kilograms of honey to the EU in fiscal year 2019/20, worth $14,035 (about Rwf13 million).

[email protected]

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: