The origins of this programme grew out of a need to provide and promote the development of bio-enterprises that are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable amongst rural resident and pastoral communities in Laikipia.
The programme also aimed to create opportunities for women and the less advantaged, to play a strong role in all the nature based enterprise activities.
Bio-enterprises are selected based on tradition and, the sustainable use of natural resources. LWF has helped rural members organize production systems for natural products, increase their volume, add value, and help people to reach markets with their products. This must all be done without compromising the resource.
The most successful of these efforts has been our beekeeping activity where we have supported rural beekeeping groups in:
- adopting new technology
- value addition
- developing business skills in order to tap into new markets
- demand better prices for their products
We will continue to harness the financial, technical, and social services as well as due diligence necessary to make these enterprises sustainable. Furthermore, we are looking into activities that fit into our tourism and bio-enterprise portfolio which includes:
- Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, and Sustainable Energy Generation
- Water Conservation and Management Technologies and Applications
- Livestock Management and Marketing
- Environmental Education and Experiential Learning
- Forestry and Tree Products
- Developing a range of 5-7 selected bio-enterprises (see below for products)
- Building capacity of value chains
- Developing innovative and creative product design
- Establishing long term development commercial relationships
Bio-products under development:
- Honey, beeswax and apitherapy products
- Nutraceuticals and body-care products
- Essential oil and cold pressed tree seed oils
By creating a direct link between the conservation of natural resources and ethically based commercial enterprise the programme will contribute towards a vibrant indigenous habitat and reverse the trend of environmental degradation in the Laikipia area.
The programme is positioned within a not for profit company, Desert Edge Bio-trading Company, which provides the platform to establish ethical partnerships with commercial entrepreneurs and assist with the tangible and viable development of individual and community owned small and medium rural businesses. Desert Edge adopts a unique approach to the way it does business:
- Ethical Trade: It supports ethical trade by buying raw and semi-processed plant materials from its member-producers and by processing, marketing and selling the semi processed and processed materials and packed products. The profits are used to give a minimum price guarantee to producers and for providing them with a 10% profit share of product sales sent direct to their micro-bank account. A percentage of the profits will be used to expand the operations.
- Equitable Share Basis: A percentage of the shares have been set-aside for small-scale producer members to purchase after a certain period of time, once Desert Edge has achieved sufficient business to generate the necessary cash flow and profit.
- Service Provision: Desert Edge has charitable status, hence the bio-enterprise development programme operates within the company as a service provision unit during the programme term. It is expected that at the end of the programme term Desert Edge will have gained capacity to provide internally funded professional services to its bio-enterprise members.
By creating a direct link between the conservation of natural resources and ethically based commercial enterprise the programme will contribute towards a vibrant indigenous habitat and reverse the trend of environmental degradation in the Laikipia area in a more sustainable manner