Beekeeping – A success story about Sintamei Nkaitole
Sintamei Nkaitole is the founder of Asali Raw Organic, a beekeeping business (under Eirel Group Limited) that focuses on the production of pure, raw organic honey. In addition to this, she is a business student and a trained pilot and also the winner of 2017 Sinapis Business Plan competition.
We got an opportunity to talk to Sintamei about her agribusiness journey and here is what she had to say:-
You are the winner of 2017 Sinapis Business Plan competition, how does it feel to win?
It feels very good to win! After all the hard work of research and practice, it’s very fulfilling. I am very happy that God gave me this opportunity to build a business in His honor and in an ethical way.
Tell us about Asali Honey. When did you start it and how did you decide on beekeeping as a business.
I began business one and a half years ago after years of struggle with bee invasions on our farm which lies on a bee path in Kajiado County in Kenya. The bees would get into our roof and it was a great nuisance. I decided to turn this struggle into an agribusiness opportunity and Asali Raw Organic was born. I got a lot of guidance and advice from the Institute of Beekeeping which is on Lenana Road in Nairobi.
What are the requirements for starting and running a successful beekeeping business?
Do proper research. Read widely about bees and do some farm visits if possible. Know what you are getting into. Count all costs and find out about pests & diseases that may attack your bees. Seek guidance and mentorship from a professional beekeeper. Research and know your market depending on the quality of your honey.
Capital: – You need a good amount of capital to begin since you need equipment like hives, extraction tools, protective clothing etc. You also need your biggest asset which is bees. If you do not have bees on your land, you have to buy them. Luckily, Sintamei has bees on their land.
Get proper training on how to handle the bees. Bees can attack you if you do not know how to handle them correctly and so you need some training on how to approach and handle them.
What challenges do you face in your business journey?
Pests. Particularly, the Honey badger. It is very hard to catch one or to prevent it from destroying bee hives. We had to change the position of the hives so as to manage and deter the honey badger from attacking the hives.
What’s the most fulfilling part of your business?
Harvesting and taking care of the bees. They work very well together, it’s fascinating to see. Learning from my own hives is also very fulfilling. We are also planning a project to give back to the community and I expect great impact and growth through this.
Would you encourage people to join this venture?
Yes, I would. I would, however, encourage them to do proper research before starting. Some of the pests that attack hives are not recorded, so it may be hard to manage if you don’t have a professional guiding you.
Any words of advice to Youth & Women trying to get into agribusiness, especially beekeeping?
Put in the work. Research and put in effort into your business. Work together with other people so as to succeed.
Lastly, where can one purchase Asali Honey?
Asali products will be launched in March 2018 and we will have a list of all the products that will hit the market on our website www.asaliraworganic.co.ke . Additionally, we will also have our products selling in a number of retail stores which we will announce on our website as well.
Sintamei builds her own hives. She also builds hives for other interested people at a reasonable cost. As for the extracting tools, she gets them from the Institute of Beekeeping. She gets other equipment like protective clothing from her local hardware stores.