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Follow the honey

The Enterprise Development Programme is helping beekeepers in Ethiopia access new markets for their honey. Projects like this help entrepreneurs in some of the world's poorest countries work their way out of poverty.

Beekeeping in Ethiopia

Beekeeping is an important economic activity in Ethiopia, employing up to two million people. However, the yield and quality of the honey is low, as people use outdated methods. EDP is helping beekeepers modernise their beehives and processes.

Export opportunities opened up when the EU approved Ethiopia as an exporter of honey in 2008, following a decline in global supply as a result of Colony Collapse Disorder. Today, there is a large global demand for honey, wax and other bee products. The introduction of modern hives helps to meet the new demand, increasing productivity by up to 400%. The business Zembaba is owned by nine cooperatives (with a total of 3,494 members, including 632 women) in the Amhara region. It sells honey and wax, and seeks to build modern hives and supply protective clothing.

Download the full details of this project (PDF)

Video: Making honey in Ethiopia

The plan

The plan

Key activities include: buying equipment to make beehives and protective clothing; training women beekeepers and local carpenters; and hiring business staff. Members can buy hives on credit to be paid off when their honey is sold. Zembaba's vision is to develop into a profitable supplier of honey and beekeeping equipment that is co-owned and managed by women producers.

We received training in modern beekeeping methods, and we're beginning to enjoy the benefits. We get much more honey than before. Now I can buy basic necessities and send my children to school. I can buy clothes, pens and books for them. If we get additional, modern beehives, we will be able to sell more.

Mengiste Alemu, beekeeper, Ethiopia

Key facts


Zembaba Honey and Inputs Marketing 


Honey; beehives and protective clothing


Honey for export; beehives and other inputs for local markets


£237,000 (£89,000 in loans) over three years (under negotiation)


Create 25 jobs at the enterprise, plus support livelihoods of 3,500 farmers; increase beekeepers' income by 30 per cent; promote women's involvement and leadership