I recently had a chance to chat with Madison Ayer, chairman and CEO of Honey Care Africa, a social venture based in Nairobi, Kenya. For a decade, the for-profit Honey Care has trained local famers as beekeepers and connected them with private for-profit businesses, NGOs and government agencies to develop production networks and supply chains for raw honey. In that time, the company has worked with more than 15,000 farmers and helped to create 30,000 modern beehives across East Africa. As a result, Honey Care has been widely recognized as a pioneer in the social enterprise and has been the subject of many glowing articles in the media.
While success stories are nice, Ayer, who joined the company in 2010, explains why it was more important that Honey Care dealt with the market and operational challenges of producing honey at commercial quantities and quality in order to sustain its business. He shares several lessons from Honey Care’s expansion and business model “refresh” that are relevant for many social enterprises dealing the problems that come with scale.
The full interview can be found below. Below that, are three key segments of the interview: Honey Care’s evolving business model, the challenges of contracted hive owners selling to outside agents or “side selling,” and Honey Care’s financing.
Editor's note: Find out more about Honey Care in the case study Building a Scalable Business with Small-Holder Farmers in Kenya: Honey Care's Beekeeping Model, published by GlobaLens.