It was an invitation to visit a nonprofit organisation in Rwanda and the desire to help make it better for others which birthed The Apiary.
Imagine a Singaporean woman – with no background in beekeeping – starting a honey social enterprise in Rwanda. The idea would certainly raise eyebrows. Why honey? Why a country 8,224 km away from Singapore?Back in 2014, Esther didn't come to Rwanda with the intention of starting a honey social enterprise, but she was moved to improve the lives of families and communities affected by the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
With Prison Fellowship Rwanda, a nonprofit organisation, she actively helped and led initiatives which worked towards teaching these communities skills in order to break them out of the poverty cycle. She also introduced and supported schemes which enabled the communities to become self-sufficient. Beekeeping was then mooted as a sustainable farming option since it requires minimal land and is not labour intensive, so both women and youths can take it up.
Beekeeping has been practiced across many generations in Rwanda, and traditional barrel-shaped beehives dot the beautiful Rwandan landscape – nestled in trees running along village paths or deep within the lush equatorial forests. Seeing this, Esther decided to supply beekeepers with quality equipment and training to build and further perpetuate Rwanda's apicultural tradition. And The Apiary Hillside Honey, Rwanda, was born.
Esther’s vision and deep commitment to creating a sustainable livelihood for Rwandan communities have made The Apiary what it is today. Over the years, what started as a small social enterprise, with the simple objective to teach beekeeping skills to a tiny number of beekeeping co-operatives, has grown into the most advanced beekeeping training programme in the country. The Apiary works with select co-operatives across Rwanda and it is now the country's only exporter of premium quality honey. The desire to help impoverished communities produce quality honey brought much pride to the beekeepers when Great Taste* rated, or awarded, The Apiary's honey with 'stars'. The honey to help change lives is also honey for gourmets!
*Great Taste is the world's largest and most trusted accreditation scheme, award, for fine food and drink.