A few months ago, Siverio Kamera, 42, a member of Ngala Club in Dowa, Malawi, was getting disillusioned by the lack of progress in his newly found source of livelihood, beekeeping.
Having joined Ngala Club in 2006, Siverio was finding the going tough as the project was failing to make any meaningful head start.
"The bees were not producing enough honey to make any profitable business. And worse still, the harvesting was proving to be a risky business: We were being stung every day due to lack of protective clothing," recalls Siverio.
The Ngala club started on a humble note with only four beehives. However, they realized that on their own, the project would crumble. So they approached Concern for support and guidance.
"After seeing our perseverance and determination, Concern helped us with 50 beehives. They also trained us in honey processing," recalls Siverio, adding, "Besides the beehives and training, Concern also gave us bee suits. This was a great boost as previously we were harvesting without any protective clothing, which was dangerous."
The relationship with Concern changed the fortunes of the group's members. When they were starting, Ngala members could only manage about 10-18kg from four hives. The quantities were so low that it made little difference to their lives.
Since then, the group's production has grown tremendously and a single beehive now produces between 8-10 kilograms, close to double the production. "We were selling unprocessed honey, which meant more quantity for a less amount. The training by Concern equipped us with processing skills and now we are bottling our produce. This has greatly boosted our sales. Before we were selling the same amount at MK150 but now the price has improved to MK500," says a proud Siverio.
He adds: "We harvest twice per year and I am able to get MK10,000 on each harvest. This money has helped me pay school fees for my children and also buy basic necessities for my family. I also use part of the money to buy fertilizer for my field."
Another beneficiary from Ngala whose life has changed for the better is Theresa Makanjira. Theresa says before joining the group, she used to sorely rely on her husband for support. "I used the profits from the honey I harvested last year to buy food and a goat, which now has one kid. Our life has changed because there are now two of us providing income in the family," says Theresa.
In an effort to secure the long-term success of the project, Concern has initiated a process of linking Ngala Club to other markets to boost their sales. The move is aimed to ensure that the group will become entirely self reliant in the future, and that stories of success like this one will multiply in the community.