Jonathan Nipper, Anuj Kulkarn, Alexis Cox, and Julia Wynyard, Wharton MBA students from the class of 2012, traveled to Kenya to help write a business and forest conservation plan for a honey business. They assisted REFUGE, an indigenous-led, community-based organization, which is working to restore the Mau forest in Kenya. One of the only sources of income for the community is charcoal production, which 85 percent of Kenyans rely on as a fuel source. REFUGE is using the honey business to provide alternative sources of income and to provide a revenue stream to be used to plant trees and to reinvest into the community schools. The trip was part of the Wharton International Volunteer Program, and co-sponsored by IGEL. You can read their diary from the trip here.
Highlights from the business plan:
- The team conducted primary market research with purchasing and gift shop managers in both Nairobi and the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
- The team evaluated the market and found that the high-end honey market in Kenya consists mostly of tourists and business travelers, as well as Nairobi-dwellers who seek organic foods. The export market is also a possibility in the future, and the team identified Mau Honey’s main competitors to establish how Mau Honey might differentiate to capture market share.
- The team also identified the social impacts of the business; detailing projected trees saved and planted using a portion of the profits from the honey.
We at IGEL are certainly happy we could help send these students to Kenya to use their business skills to assist REFUGE’s efforts to provide alternative community income, invest in community education and assist in forest conservation. Thank you to the students who did such a great job, and REFUGE for the excellent work it does!