July 2011: Maria
Odido highlights her company growth thanks to the EMRC-Rabobank Project
EMRC spoke to Maria Odido, Managing
Director of Bee Natural Products and 2010 Project Incubator Award
Winner, to understand what winning an award has
done to her business and what her future business
objectives and projections are.
: It has been 2 years since you
won the award: tell us what you have achieved in these two years. How has it changed
it your business?
Maria Odido: In the last 2 years since we
won the award, we have been able to
- Raise our raw material purchase from 11
tons in 2010 to 80 tons this year.
- We have sent two
of our staff to Kenya for training in Queen rearing and colony
multiplication. This will assist us in raising queens and increasing
colonies especially during the swarming season. We will then be able to
sell these colonies to our beekeepers with their hives, so that they buy
colonies instead of empty hives. This reduces the amount of time that
they wait for swarms to colonize and the end result is in quicker production
- We are now introducing
new products like chunk honey for an
upper class market, propolis for the
alternative health industry and we are rebranding our company
- We have also joined up
with an organisation called Kilimo Trust and SNV to re-organise our producers and improve our field activities.
EMRC: What would you tell your
fellow country people about the importance of the Project Incubator Award?
I would say that the most important aspect of
the Project Incubator Award is that it exposes a company and its business
especially SMEs to an audience that one would not usually be exposed to. That exposure brings
with it partnerships that under normal business circles would take a business
years to find and discuss anything with. It also shows you where you are
strong and where your weaknesses lie. Because of the encouragement you
receive, it builds your confidence to grow and experiment. That cannot be
too bad for a company. Most SMEs are afraid to experiment, due to cost
and lack of confidence. The Project Incubator Award, grants you both
EMRC: What are your projections
for the next 2 years?
ensure that our new brand gets to be as well known as the initial brand.
This will not be too difficult as the new brand is far superior.
ensure that we increase our groups to 133 groups of 15 individuals per groups
who are properly equipped to produce our expected projection of 130tons next
increase our market share in the region so that we become the best known table
- That our new products will
find market both regionally and in the international market as they are high
value products. To achieve this last objective, we have to ensure that our
packaging also meets international standard expectations.