Mmabatho Morudi grew up in the Winterveld in the North West province of South Africa – an area that was demarcated as an agricultural settlement. Today it is one of the poorest areas in the country, and still home to a group of small farmers struggling to make ends meet. Mmabatho thought she would study, move away, and settle in the city. Then life happened, and Mmabatho’s journey changed.
Iliju bee farms
Mmabatho’s grandfather – one of the Winterveld farmers, Dr Sam Motsuenyane – wanted to attend a course on bee farming and invited Mmabatho and her cousins to accompany him. Mmabatho was hooked – she later attended and completed an advanced course in bee keeping and started Iliju Bee Farms with ten hives – the first batch of many to come.
Giving back to the community
What initially appeared as a business opportunity proved that it could have a positive impact in rural communities. Bees are invaluable to crop farmers to pollinate crops and fruit. Mmabatho and her team placed Iliju hives on citrus farmers' plots at no cost. Doing so was Mmabatho's way of giving back by making sure that their produce was of good quality and had maximized yields. Mmabatho did her own hive management on the farms, while she trained the farmers about bees.
It is also a business
Iliju Bee Farms (Iliju Pty) provided Mmabatho the opportunity to harvest and sell the honey. “I wanted to sell proudly South African, good quality, unprocessed raw honey to the markets.” Mmabatho continued, “and with that make the story of honey and honey bees come alive.
“When you see a jar of honey on the shelves, it doesn’t tell the story of what goes on behind the scenes. I want to create a love of honey among consumers, and an understanding of the work bees does and the intelligence of these little creatures.”
The village market Africa (TVMA)
As is typical with true entrepreneurs, Mmabatho's vision did not stop with the bees. Mmabatho then went on to co-found The Village Market Africa (TVMA).
The Village Market Africa was founded as a bee farming initiative focused on creating and finding a conducive environment for bees to thrive. TVMA is premised on the need to create a harmonious relationship between bees and rural communities/villages in whihc both can thrive, particulary in light of the global threat to bees. This harmony is achieved through identifying and training villages in sustainable beekeeping and nature conservation, as well as providing them with the support needed to set up and maintain beekeeping initiatives.
Establishing the above relationship has allowed TVMA to create a new sustainable supply base for honey and organic produce that is secured through the company's buy-back policy. The company buys back the produce produced in these villages, and then sells said produce through The Village Market Africa. This policy ensures that TVMA offers its partners and customers quality products that help create a brighter future for Africa.
How did it start?
In the early stages of this process, Mmabatho found that having bee hives on farms resulted in healthier and more bountiful crop (organic produce) yields. It was then that TVMA was born.
TVMA initialy focused on selling premium raw honey and fresh organic produce. Since then, it's added natural skincare products and home accessories to its range. Beautifully packaged, their products come with the unique stories of the villages from which they are sourced. This is TVMA's way of acknowledging and preserving the wealth of knowledge, wisdom, resources, and history of these villages.
Why the village?
The company chose to support villages as well as to highlight "the village" in its name in an attempt to recognise the abilities of their (the founders') rural ancestors' cultures and traditional practices. These cultures and practices respected and worked with the ecosystems they depended on in a way that cultivated abundance and strong communities.
Additionally, a lack of commercial opportunities and high levels of unemployment plague South Africa's rural areas. Migrant populations are also destined for increasingly limited opportunities in the urban areas to which they migrate.
TVMA aims to stimulate a whole new value chain by looking after its village ecosystems.
For more information, contact:
Tel: +27 72 991 1691
Copyright © 2016 Business Partners Ltd. All rights reserved.