One of the churches in Manzini, Swaziland founded Eswatini Swazi Kitchen in 1991 to create a source of funding for the Manzini Youth Center. They process mostly local and/or traditional jams, chutneys, and hot sauces including orange marmalade, marula jam, ginger mango chutney, and Swazi hot pepper sauce. Eswatini started a related business, ESK Honey, about 10 years later, to produce both raw and creamed raw honey. In the last couple of years, ESK has been working with Swazi Candles, another local manufacturer, to create gift packs with beeswax candles, honey, and honey soap. Under Europe’s Fair Trade initiative, some of (see rest of story below photos)
both Eswatini and ESK’s products are sold to large customers in France, Germany, Netherlands, Austria (Oxfam), U.K. and Sweden. The Fair Trade initiative has also led to new Eswatini and ESK customers through the U.S. Fancy Foods trade show. Africa Development Fund and a couple of other international funds supplement product sales to pay for factory operations, training of beekeepers and small-holder farmers, transportation, etc. TechnoServe Swaziland began working with ESK Honey as a client in mid- 2007 and Eswatini Kitchens, mid-2008, to turn around some serious constraints, e.g., hand-labeling for even typical orders of over 30,000 jars. With more streamlined, business-savvy management, both Eswatini and ESK should not only be able to meet its already substantial commitments, but seek expansion opportunities. TechnoServe also helped connect the companies to new funders who were assessing both businesses as well as to an international advertisement agency who pro bono designed newer graphics and branding for promotional activities.
There are additional economic benefits beyond supporting Manzini’s Youth Center for HIV/AIDS affected young people. TechnoServe and government agricultural agencies are now specifically encouraging both the 4,000 already-trained and new beekeepers among the youth and elderly by providing training on how to start, maintain, and build additional and/or mobile hives as well as seek new hive locations. The focus is to enable youth and the elderly—especially those affected or infected by HIV–to earn revenues for part-time, non-high-skilled activities. Meanwhile the bees do all the work! It is hoped that through all these collaborations, Swaziland can become one of the world’s premier honey sources and strong supplier of “good cause” jams and condiments.