WDI Speaker Series: Growing Businesses, Preserving Honey Bees

Friday, November 4, 2016

The co-founder of a start-up venture in South Africa that aims to save the honey bee will share how he designed the initiative to have economic, social and environmental impact as part of the WDI Global Impact Speaker Series. The talk begins at 5 p.m., Nov. 16 in room R2230 at the Ross School of Business, and is free and open to the public.

(Click here to watch Madison Ayer’s Nov. 16 classroom presentation.)

Madison Ayer speaks in November 2015 as part of the WDI Global Impact Speaker Series.

Madison Ayer, who has led several social ventures in Africa, including Honey Care Africa and Farm Shop, will discuss what he learned from those enterprises to launch Mbuyu Group, a large-scale honey bee conservation initiative. Mbuyu Group is working with South African National Parks to protect some of the world’s most critical honey bee ecosystems and strengthen the bee population. The group also hopes to become one of the largest global producers of organic honey.

Ayer has been featured in the WDI speaker series in the past. Last year, he talked about Honey Care Africa and Farm Shop, two ventures in Kenya that serve those living at the base of the pyramid.

Honey Care Africa provides smallholder farmers with beehives and harvest management services. In addition, it guarantees a market for the beekeeper’s honey at fair trade prices, helping to provide a steady, consistent source of income.

Farm Shop recruits and trains franchisees who then independently operate community-level, agro-dealer shops that supply smallholder farmers with seeds, fertilizers, tools, veterinary medicines and other items to improve crop yields.

In his 2015 talk, Ayer discussed the challenges that come with integrating low-income producers and consumers into the supply chain, including poor infrastructure, security concerns, informal regulations, and high costs. But if successful in overcoming these hurdles, Ayer said it can lead to long-term competitive advantage and positive economic impact on communities across the supply chain.

Watch Ayer’s 2015 presentation here and his interview with WDI Senior Research Fellow Ted London below:

In addition to his previous talks, Ayer also has engaged with WDI’s Scaling Impact Initiative and the Performance Measurement Initiative (PMI).

As part of a project funded by the German development agency GIZ, WDI studied the landscape of BoP facilitators in the sub-Saharan Africa region. The Scaling Impact initiative conducted field visits to Ethiopia and Kenya – including to Honey Care Africa and Farm Shop.

WDI’s Performance Measurement Initiative team also conducted a qualitative impact assessment in 2012 to identify Honey Care’s impact in alleviating poverty on children age eight years and younger, and developed a case study as part of the series entitled Focusing on the Next Generation: An Exploration of Enterprise Poverty Impacts on Children. The goal of the series, funded by the Bernard Van Leer Foundation, was to gain a greater understanding of the ways in which businesses in emerging markets impact young children’s lives and the potential to optimize impact on children.

Additionally, WDI Publishing also produced a popular teaching case study on Honey Care Africa that examined the business’s transition from obligating farmers to maintain their own hives to providing hive management services. The case also explored ways to enhance this new model, including strategies to reduce side selling. It was written by London and Heather Esper, senior program manager of PMI.

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