WE always wanted to start a business that would empower the local people in a sustainable way, says a young entrepreneur.
Sandu Kapesha is the chief executive officer of Wuchi Wami Limited.
Wuchi Wami is a Lunda/Luvale expression which means “My Honey”.
Kapesha says it is a brand name that produces, supplies and distributes certified Pure Raw and Natural Organic Honey, which is harvested from the Miombo forests of north-western Zambia.
“Being North Westerners, we are in a land with forests that produce the best organic honey yet no single local person is positioned to take competitive advantage of the resource. We always wanted to start a business that would empower the local people in a sustainable way,” he says.
Kapesha says it was easy to choose honey because it was in abundance but the people had no market.
“As a networks engineer respected by the locals, people brought their honey for me to find market. I couldn’t betray their trust and confidence,” he explains.
The business has been running for almost two years now, but Kapesha stresses that families and communities have been into honey long before “we were born”.
“Even the biggest multinational corporations today started as small business entities in some backyard years back. And as Wuchi Wami, we are not apologetic for starting small because we know that with the support of the customer, cooperating partners and other stakeholders, we are growing bigger day-by-day and slowly becoming a household brand,” he says.
Kapesha says Wuchi Wami is a cooperative that manages an out-growers system that includes collaboration among the over 200 registered farmers spread across North-Western Province.
“Wuchi Wami boasts of being the best natural, viscous and sweet honey with a pleasant aroma used as a sweetener with immeasurable health benefits. Our business and sustainability model is that we provide to our documented farmers with inputs such as Beehives, Personal Protective Wear (PPE), buckets and facilitate training in environmental friendly bee farming practices. Wuchi Wami then buys off all harvested honey and transports it to Lusaka for processing, packaging, branding and distribution to the market,” he explains.
Kapesha says robust as the Miombo forest where it is harvested, Wuchi Wami honey is top notch, export ready, certified organic honey with a full-bodied flavour which yields a pleasant texture and a rich undertone of unique sweetness.
“The overall beneficial honey is rich in health, nutritional and medicinal value. What an honour and experience it’s been to see first-hand local economy change because of honey. When you purchase, you are not only getting the highest raw and organic quality, you are also taking part in providing sustainable rural income in very remote parts where opportunities are limited. You make it so that we can continue creating work for our over 200 farmers – how fantastic,” he says.
Kapesha says the business now has a national character and personality in terms of market expansion and product penetration.
“The philosophy is to start small and think big as a growth-oriented company,” he says.
Kapesha says being one’s own boss is the toughest boss one can ever have.
“It involves stretching yourself to the limits. It involves working awkward hours to meet targets. Running a business involves wearing many hats. Ranging from wearing a cowboy hat with the farmers in the bush to a hard hat and work suit under a machine to cap as you drive a truck transporting your goods to the market. You need to keep your production costs low. Learn to do certain things yourself,” he says.
Kapesha advises upcoming business men and women to strive to be consistent with both quality and quantity.
“Be sincere with capacity and work your way up with integrity to win the market confidence. Let’s learn to collaborate and network with other SME’s. Affiliate with government institutions like Zambia Development Agency and pay taxes. Ensure that product presentation is top notch for world class just like Wuchi Wami Honey with the correct certification and adheres to industry standards,” he says.
Kapesha says their main clients include
“We plan to explore and export to the Botswana market and boost trade in the enabling business environment both countries have created. We salute their confidence and support. Others are Food Lovers, Umoyo Natural Health Shop – all their shops in leading shopping malls stock the brand, Mika Group of Hotels, Melissa Supermarkets and the clergy and religious Catholic communities,” he says.
Kapesha says small enterprises like Wuchi Wami play a central role in growing the economy, wealth creation and creating employment as a wellspring of economic diversification.
Kapesha says Zambians now appreciate local products.
He says there is an emerging class of Zambian products where they belong and they produce and package world class.
“This group has done its homework and its being appreciated by Zambians. Deliberate efforts and incentives to local enterprises that have capacity to grow … investors should be encouraged to partner with local businesses with similar nature,” he says. “In the next five years we would have increased our bee farmers database records to over 2,000 farmers empowered with environmental friendly and sustainable bee farming techniques participating and contributing to the economy,” he says.
Kapesha says they want to establish a factory with state of the art machinery in Mwinilunga and continue to provide meaningful and sustainable employment to the youth and women with limited opportunities.
“This will translate in increased capacity and efficiency. Wuchi Wami will be a household name in the nation. We will be exporting to the region and big markets of Asia, Europe and USA,” he says.
Kapesha thanks ZDA for letting Wuchi Wami represent Zambian Honey at China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai – China.
He says chiefs and the government should gazette portions of the Miombo forests and keep it away from any form of exploitation.
“Keep the forest natural, away from industrisation and farming in order to keep having pure organic honey,” he says.
Kapesha also says there is need to establish a Honey Association of Zambia to regulate such initiatives.
Kapesha was one of the delegates at the 2019 Centre for Trade Policy and Development agriculture symposium./LM