How it all began…
It was in 2008 that Krysten Ericson first encountered Ololosokwan Village during her travels in Tanzania.
While exploring the village and the local culture, she observed that many of the women lacked education, resources, and opportunities to support their families. Motivated to improve their living situations, she aimed to create a project that would empower the women - creating pathways for them to earn income, support their families, and also act as role models for other female villagers. Given the natural environment and regional wildlife, she was inspired to pursue such initiatives through beekeeping.
To realize the vision, she collaborated with village community members, then in 2010 the project began.
At first the program was small. There was no official apiary site, but they had ten beehives that were hung in the surrounding forests. There were a few local community members who helped to manage activities and, over time, women of the village were included in the project. Krysten collaborated with the locals to select those most in need; she focused on helping women who were widowed or particularly impoverished.
By 2012, Maasai Honey was training 8 local women and had established an apiary site near the center of Ololosokwan.
The project continued to grow as Tanzanian beekeepers came to provide teachings on hive maintenance, honey processing, and production. With time, more hives were added, including colonies of stingless bees - a unique species from the surrounding area. With additional trainings, the group also began production of natural cosmetics and beeswax products. The women were educated on creating salves, soap, and candles using wax from the hives and other natural ingredients.
Sales increased as the honey became popular with local safari lodges and in 2014 two additional apiary sites were added.
A small shop was created in the village center and shortly thereafter the project opened a sales office in Arusha City. Product demand increased as the honey reached a larger audience. A designated production facility was created in the village and operations became certified by the TFDA (Tanzania Food and Drug Authorities). The women’s group was educated in official manufacturing procedures and the team grew adept at managing the growing production demands. Acquisitions of modern processing equipment and beekeeping gear further supported the project’s production capacity.
By 2018 the project had grown to include over 100 beehives in 4 apiary sites throughout Ololosokwan Village.
Trainings in beekeeping continued as did business development. Additional education on beeswax products allowed for even more varieties of candles and natural cosmetics. New members were added to the team in order to support the ongoing activities, while also furthering the mission of Maasai Honey. As the project grew in Ololosokwan Village, business ventures in Arusha City also expanded - reaching more clients and customers to support product sales.
Currently, Maasai Honey trains a group of 11 women and activities are managed by 4 staff members in the village and 3 in Arusha City.
Operations continue to grow with the inclusion of more beehives, more team members, and more products! Education in beekeeping is ongoing and production methods continue to be improved and expanded. Experienced teachers are routinely brought in to conduct trainings, allowing both the women beneficiaries and staff members to build upon their knowledge and skills.