Bee the Change

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Bee the Change: Helping low-income women overcome poverty through beekeeping!

Columbus, United StatesBoquete, PanamaGuatemala
Year Founded:
2014
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Scaling strategies launched within the past 6 months:
Organizational Growth
Trainings, Consultation
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Bee the Change work with women in low-income communities to offer them supplemental income through the sale of beehive by-products. We are addressing poverty and the the disappearance of bees, ( which provide 1/3 of the worlds food supply through pollination), by teaching women beekeeping.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What is we could save honeybees and ends poverty at the same time?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The main problems being addressed with is two-fold: women who have low-income status within the US and who lack sufficient income the countries outside the US (Panama, Colombia and Guatemala) and honeybees are disappearing. Honeybees are one of the critical pollinators that provide 1/3 of the worlds food supply with pollination and therefore are critical to human survival.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We are addressing poverty with women in low-income communities by offering them supplemental income through the sale of beehive by-products. We are addressing the disappearance of bees, ( which provide 1/3 of the worlds food supply through pollination), by teaching women beekeeping. As we increase the number of beekeepers and therefore number of bees, we address both poverty and honeybees colony collapse disorder.

Awards

The Resolution Fellowship
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

In the spring of 2015, we placed our first four hives in Franklinton Community Gardens. Throughout the summer, I was able to teach 12 women beekeeping classes,many gained a great interest and requested personal lesson on the art of apiculture. All of these women are stay at home moms because they cannot afford the cost of childcare or are out of work and 10/12 of the women lack any formal education. Through teaching beekeeping, the women felt a sense of purpose and felt skilled which carried over into making lotions and chapsticks. They were more confident when they successfully checked on the bees, overcoming their personal fears of these tiny creatures and were even more proud when their work yielded food and money for their family.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We have taught 12 women beekeeping through the four current hives and have been able to sell our honey giving them each supplemental income of $100 after the product sales(sell 60 lbs of honey and lotions and chapsticks made by hand at the farmers market.) We were able to offer them subsidized CSA shares (community members and their families $35 worth of fresh, organic vegetables from the gardens each week). With the community engagement we are able to educate about the importance of bees and put four more beehives which totals around 240,000 more pollinators in this urban area that often lacks pollinators.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

I am currently working in Panama and Guatemala for the next two months to work on implementation of the project in these two countries, particularly where female workers are experiencing great loss due to Roya. We are currently working with 15 individuals in Panama. The plan for scaling the project is to work with these 15 women to teach them beekeeping and through sale of hive by products give them income and put a portion of the proceeds back into increasing the number of hives and each year adding at least 5 women beekeepers who are able to be supported by the project.
Sustainability
Funding: How is your project financially supported?: 
individual donations or gifts - 20%
grants or contracts - 40%
earned income (product or services sales, licensing, franchising, consulting, financing, etc.) - 15%

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

As the number of hives grow, the number of products produced from the hives will increase and thus the income generated can increase over time. Income will also increase over time as hives become more established and have higher yield and the customer base for products from our locations abroad grows and develops. We are currently dependent on donations and partial sustainable income from product sales.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Many conservation organizations are addressing the lack of bees through encouraging more beekeepers and many NGOs are endeavoring to address poverty, but using beekeeping to address poverty is a novel concept being piloted by a few other organizations. However, our specific focus on women also addressed a focus group that often is neglected when it comes to offering them entrepreneurial and agricultural opportunities for sustainable income.
Team

Founding Story

Growing up in a house where we depended on food-stamps, and I was the first to attend college, I understand the economic struggle for low-income females and my love for bees and the environment inspired a perfect match for addressing these challenges. However, it wasn't until my team and I visited a small village in Myanmar that we realized that women in poverty needs to be addressed with on-the-ground work and it needs to be done soon. This is when I realized my background had been preparing me to address these challenges and Bee the Change was born!

Team

Our team is currently comprised of myself and co-founders Hayley Gocha and Nora Benson. I have been a beekeeper for 6 years and am an Ecologist and biologist with experience in addressing social issues through my volunteer work. Hayley's background is with the United Nations and her focus is partnerships. Nora studies engineering and is chief technology officer and is responsible for technical aspects and social media.