A year ago, an extraordinary woman and visionary entrepreneur, Mavis Nduchwa, passed away from complications due to COVID-19. She was 39.
Mavis was a Botswanan businesswoman who focused on sustainable agricultural practices through her business, Kalahari Honey. Her innovative business model at Kalahari Honey empowered women, who made up over 95% of beekeepers, and employed beekeeping for food security and wildlife conservation by reducing human contact with elephants. Prior to her work in agriculture, Mavis had gained over a decade of experience in conservation and the hospitality industry.
Mavis was truly a community-driven entrepreneur. She was committed to improving livelihoods, building businesses that created resilient and environmentally-sustainable communities, and retaining agricultural value chains within Africa for greater impact for farmers.
She understood that it is possible to transform communities ourselves and retain young talent within the continent. She was a mentor to many young women business owners in Botswana, sharing her knowledge and experience.
I spoke with Brighton Chabana who is Mavis’ surviving spouse and business partner, and has now taken over Kalahari Honey, to understand how they have fared over the past year. Brighton is working to keep Mavis’ legacy alive by keeping Kalahari Honey running and caring for their two young boys.
But he has also faced some challenges. While Kalahari Honey is staying afloat and meeting its obligations, it also needs to expand its market and grow its customer base, he tells me over the Zoom call. Brighton has also had to restructure and prioritise activities to ensure that the day-to-day running of the business was more feasible for him, as there were many things that Mavis had handled directly. The business is staying connected with its community and the local beekeepers who provide its honey, and continues to train women as beekeepers and provide them with a livelihood.
Kalahari Honey now needs to expand its number of farmers, mostly women and youth in the rural areas of Botswana, to also increase the market by getting more customers, both from within and outside Botswana, and to continue to provide training for its beekeeping workforce, most of whom are local women from its community.
In August 2021 when I posted the news of Mavis’s passing, over 60,000 people read the post and hundreds of messages were left, expressing the depth of loss we all felt. A year on, with this post, to support Brighton Chabana and the work being done at Kalahari Honey, I encourage people to purchase Kalahari Honey – orders can be placed from anywhere around the world and by doing that, you support the bees, farmers and the environment. You can email Brighton Chabana to place an order.
While Mavis was alive, she leveraged the social media platforms to market Kalahari Honey and to share stories of the women she was training. Unfortunately, since her passing, the business’s online presence, the Kalahari Honey website and social media pages have been dormant over the past year. Brighton Chabana is seeking a social media and website manager to revive Kalahari Honey’s website and social media pages.
If you are interested in any of these forms of support, please contact Brighton Chabana via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mavis Nduchwa was modest and wilful; humble and fearless; rigorous but not ruthless. She always said, discover your passion and purpose, your story is bigger than your business. It is a story of your community, country, region and the continent. Let us never forget her story for she embodied the optimism of African entrepreneurs, shaping their own destiny.
About Parminder Vir OBE
In a professional career spanning 40 years, Parminder Vir OBE has dedicated her life to telling untold stories, resourcing the skills and imagination of under-served communities. She is an expert on African entrepreneurship, an award-winning film and television producer and advocate for arts and culture. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Wazima Health, Advisory Board Member of Mamamoni Limited, and Narrative Advisor at Mustard Venture Agency. She served as the CEO of the Tony Elumelu Foundation where she designed and implemented a holistic entrepreneurship programme, impacting over 10,000 African entrepreneurs across 54 African countries from 2014–2019. She continues to advocate for entrepreneurship as the best path for the social and economic development of Africa.