STELP and Stay create sustainable prospects for Uganda’s smallholder farmers

STELP and Stay create sustainable prospects for Uganda’s smallholder farmers

a guest article by Andreas Kugler, Stay

STELP and Stay jointly sponsor the Stay Bee training program in Uganda. In doing so, they are creating sustainable prospects for prospective beekeepers to earn their own income.


Jasper Elong

Jasper Elong stands contentedly in front of his beehive in his home village in northern Uganda. It’s very warm and sunny, and the village is surrounded by lots of greenery. The area is fertile. Jasper supports himself and his family as a small farmer, like thousands of others in this region. On average, each family earns 50 to 60 euros a month – too little for a healthy life. But beekeeping opens up new opportunities for Jasper: “I have now seen that beekeeping is very good. That’s why I’m going to continue with it. Now I just need more material for the hives.” By selling honey and wax, Jasper and other small farmers can supplement their income to about 80 euros a month. For some families, that’s as much as doubling their income.

Because extreme poverty is an everyday reality for many families in Uganda. According to the World Bank, the country has one of the lowest incomes. The government has set out to make Uganda an “upper middle-income” country over the next 20 years – a category that now includes countries such as Namibia and Thailand. In the agricultural sector, beekeeping is one of the key factors for successful development. For honey is becoming increasingly popular in Uganda. Besides, the climate is favorable for it. The hives are naturally taken over by bee colonies. In short, the prerequisites are there, now all that is needed is to enable people to make a profit out of it. Like Jasper.

The Stay Alliance: Network for a better future

How did Jasper make that leap? Change of location – to the Ugandan capital Kampala: In an office, Ernest Namanya Rwendeire sits with his colleagues from the officially recognized non-governmental organization LATEK Stay Alliance Uganda. Stay Alliance is a network of Ugandan companies that implement social projects in their home country in an economically viable way. It was created by the Stuttgart-based Stay Foundation. Now Ernest and his team are going over the first figures of the beekeeping training program. What they read is promising. The test phase was a success.

The testing phase, that was working with people like Jasper. Stay Alliance, together with the experienced Ugandan company Golden Bees Ltd. and other network companies, provided 120 smallholder farmers with protective clothing, building materials for a beehive and – most importantly – knowledge. And they have a buyer for their honey and beeswax right away, Golden Bees Ltd. So, all in all, they’ve got the makings of a new sideline business.

CEO of Golden Bees, Brian Mugisha, already has a lot of experience training beekeepers. In the Stay Alliance network, Brian has shared this wealth of experience with other member companies. The effect: now even more apprenticeships can be offered. Another 320 beekeepers will undergo the four-day training. “This will enable them to lift themselves and their families out of poverty,” says a delighted Benjamin Wolf, founder and managing director of Stay.

“You can only make a difference by doing something different”

A small health center deep in the cloud forests of Ecuador. This is where Benjamin Wolf had his first experience with development aid 20 years ago. For 13 years Benjamin worked for various organizations until he founded the Stay Foundation. What drove him was the desire to do things differently: “Many development projects were well-intentioned but, on balance, not done well enough. I realized that things had to be done differently for development work to finally bring about sustainable improvements.”

Stay’s revolutionary idea is: it doesn’t need development aid at all. “Every time I’m in Africa, I’m overwhelmed by the people I meet there: optimistic, imaginative doers with a strong hands-on mentality,” Benjamin says. “They know best what is needed locally and are deeply rooted in their African homeland. These people never gave me the impression that they were waiting for outside help.”

With Stay, Benjamin has brought these people into focus. Stay exclusively promotes African social enterprises and brings them together in networks, the Stay Alliances. Their initiative, their entrepreneurial know-how coupled with their social aspirations make them key figures in the fight against poverty.

STELP and Stay: On the same wavelength

STELP believes that it is individuals who make a difference. The association currently supports projects on three continents, is active in refugee aid, and alleviates acute need, for example through direct access to food, sanitary products, and clean water. Recently, founder and managing director Serkan Eren and his team were back in Bosnia to organize relief supplies for refugees in Bihać. In this way, they were able to at least alleviate the catastrophic situation in the camps for some of the people. STELP also supports education projects in Nepal and Cambodia, runs soup kitchens at six schools in Yemen, and co-finances a health center in Gaza to bring lasting, sustainable improvements to healthcare for the Palestinian population.

STELP has also found a sustainable project at Stay – and without traveling far. That’s because both organizations have their home in the western part of Stuttgart. So it was only natural that STELP and Stay should now join forces: STELP is supporting the beekeeping training program in Uganda with around 30,000 euros.

The two founders, Benjamin von Stay and Serkan from STELP, compare the cooperation between STELP and Stay to two puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly: “STELP has built up a large network of supporters in Stuttgart and the region over the years. And Stay, with the Stay Alliance, has an approach for sustainably defeating extreme poverty in entrepreneurial projects. By bringing together the strengths of STELP and Stay, together we can reach our goal faster: namely, to increase effectiveness for local people.”

Building block for further success

Jasper is grateful for the training he received from Stay Alliance members. For him, it represents a step toward a safer and more dignified life. But it will take more success stories like Jasper’s to sustainably overcome extreme poverty. STELP’s support of the Stay Bee program is one building block toward that end.

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