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Planet and Prosperity: The Chiseka Beekeeping Project

Empowering Tiyambenawo Community to use earth-friendly honey businesses to break the cycle of poverty so they can invest in their children

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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional insights gathered from Beneficiary Feedback in this field

Yamba Malawi is committed to uplifting Malawi's most vulnerable children through community-focused, holistic livelihood programs that bridge Planet and Prosperity. Whether we are with beneficiaries in the field, brainstorming with our 100% Malawian program team, or fundraising in New York, we rely on creative problem solving, teamwork, and feedback to build brighter futures for children, and lasting change for their communities.

Why does the target community define this problem as urgent and/or a priority? How is the idea leveraging and empowering community assets to help create an environment for success? (1000 characters)

High HIV/AIDS mortality, extreme poverty, & climate change have profoundly increased childhood vulnerability in Tiyambenawo. To address these challenges, local women seeking to give vulnerable children food, education, & psychosocial support founded the Community Based Organization (CBO) in 2003. Despite efforts, scarce resources made it impossible to meet the need. YM will uplift these efforts with empowerment programs that address the multifaceted nature of childhood vulnerability & break the cycle of poverty. Focus groups have confirmed interest in “working together to uplift the lives of vulnerable children in the community,” & Tiyambenawo is making significant contributions to ensure success. To maximize honey yields, YM negotiated a lease of private forested land with respected community leaders who founded the CBO. The community donated infrastructure for the Honey Hub, where honey is processed & sold, & 3 acres of land to be converted into community forest for future growth.

How does the idea fit within the larger ecosystem that surrounds it? Urgent needs are usually a symptom of a larger issue that rests within multiple interrelated symptoms - share what you know about the context surrounding the problem you are aiming to solve. (500 characters)

Many households have livelihoods that damage the environment & perpetuate the cycle of vulnerability. As one user said in our focus group, “We take care of vulnerable children, some of whom are orphans who fail to go far...because of lack of resources.” The Project provides an environmentally-friendly business, financial & childhood wellbeing coaching, & sustainable income for the CBO’s life-changing programs, all while empowering households to address root vulnerabilities.

How does the idea affect or change the fundamental nature of the larger ecosystem that surrounds it (as described above) in a new and/or far-reaching way? (500 characters)

The Project’s ripple effect will impact the entire community through comprehensive conservation & reforestation, decreased need for emergency interventions, & increased local economic activity. Moreover, by planting >20k trees and encouraging the return of honeybees to areas with high farming activities, our program increases crop yields. This impacts childhood nutrition, which is correlated with improved health & school enrollment, as well as decreased child labor & marriage.

What will be different within the target community as a result of implementing the idea? What is the scope and scale of that difference? How long will it take to see that difference and how will it be sustained beyond BridgeBuilder support? (500 characters)

YM is committed to empowerment & sustainability so beneficiaries can become independent entrepreneurs building brighter futures for children. The Project begins realizing results at first harvest, 3 mo. after enrollment. After 3 years, the community graduates with resources & skills to run the business, manage profits, & invest in food, education, & care. They are trained to grow their businesses, conserve their environments, & maintain peer relationships that reinforce best practices.

How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

We conducted focus groups to understand how might we improve baseline surveys to ensure we target the most vulnerable children. Surveys were in their 2nd version, having been adjusted after a different intervention. The focus groups gathered feedback about beneficiaries’ rapport with interviewers, their understanding of the questions being asked, & thoughts about the overall process (i.e. location, timing). Findings confirmed key pillars of our approach. I.e. one person mentioned another NGO’s survey, noting “similar questions [but] in a group discussion, so we did not have privacy to speak freely.” Feedback also uncovered anxiety about NGOs not returning, something many noted previously occurred. This shared anxiety reemphasized our commitment to clearly articulating when regularly conducted field visits will occur. We will also use this feedback to improve peer mentor trainings, as these leaders are important liaisons for our team & the first line of support for beneficiaries.

What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (You can attach a timeline or GANTT chart in place of a written plan, if desired.) (1000 characters)

The Project is a 3-year program that will be ready for initial asset transfers & training in August 2018. Please see the attached for a detailed breakout of activities in 2018. The Project includes training & coaching in 3 key areas: technical training, financial management, & childhood wellbeing, which will continue for 3 years. Enrolled households meet with our team to develop individualized case plans, which are used for coaching. With YM guidance, peer mentors provide each household individualized support through monthly one-on-one sessions, and biweekly group meetings to develop a support system around best practices, troubleshooting challenges, and creating a safety net for vulnerable children. YM’s team of experts oversees these sessions, & our experts reconvene peer mentors every 6 months for extension learning that helps us adjust content areas & respond to the unique needs of each group. Trainings continue for 3 years, after which training is available but not mandatory.

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (Feel free to share an organizational chart or visual description of your team). (500 characters)

Partners — Tiyambenawo Community Based Organization: Provides programs for vulnerable children (i.e. feeding program, nursery school). Community-level business will generate revenue for existing programs. Coaching sessions will elevate support to children Hive Group: Experts providing business inputs & technical expertise. Helps develop local & external honey markets & acts as optional guaranteed buyer for honey harvest. Is advising on future value chain growth (candles, soap, etc)

What aspects of the idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (500 characters)

YM seeks support for startup costs for the Project, including business assets like hives, beekeeping suits, & tools, as well as initial trainings around beekeeping, financial management, & childhood wellbeing. This support will not only reduce the vulnerability of ~2,000 children in the community with revenue generated from an estimated 11,667 pounds of honey per year, but also protect the environment by preserving over 10 acres of natural forested land, & by planting over 20,000 trees.

In preparation for our Expert Feedback Phase: What are three unanswered questions or challenges that you could use support on in your project? These questions will be answered directly by experts matched specifically to your idea and needs.

1. Given the historic presence of nonprofits in Malawi and the lingering power dynamic related to this history, how might we ensure we are getting honest feedback during user interviews (both in assessing needs before program launch and successes/challenges after the program launches)? In particular, what strategies can a small nonprofit employ given limited team capacity? 2. In addition to early and frequent community sensitization meetings, how might we best mitigate expectations for support while conducting baseline surveys, as not all those interviewed will be chosen for the program (but all answers are important for baseline data)? More specifically, how might we best mitigate resentment towards the project and/or jealousy towards those participating? 3. Peer education is a critical component to maintaining and scaling our program. Outside of monetary incentives, what strategies or approaches might we employ to encourage and empower peer mentors to engage with their beneficiary groups?

Final Updates (*Please do not complete until we reach the Improve Phase*): How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

During Feedback Phases, our team confirmed program plans & identified areas for iteration. For example, we listened deeply to the following user feedback, “Most of us are failing to send children to school consistently because of lack of food, clothing, school materials.” Articulating education is impacted by a lack of school fees & other components, this user confirmed a need for interconnected approaches to reducing vulnerability—which will inform our coaching curriculums. Our expert provided helpful notes on organizing honest & illuminating focus groups, & his advice echoed feedback from users about returning to close feedback loops. This advice highlighted the importance of prioritizing visits, so our Executive Director & Program Director have recently visited Tiyambenawo to share how analyzed responses & our adjustments (see select photos in the first section). Visits will develop community rapport & ensure open communication between our staff & users during roll-out.

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

While this phase of the project is focused primarily on beekeeping, support from the Bridgebuilder Challenge will help YM explore additional possibilities for bridging Planet & Prosperity in Tiyambenawo Community, and we will continue to integrate both creative solutions and constructive feedback from our beneficiaries in as we scale and improve upon our interventions. For example, in a neighboring community, YM is exploring the impact of planting sunflowers near their hives. In doing so, the community can increase honey yields for their household-level beekeeping businesses, produce sunflower cakes for their community-level poultry business, and market sunflower oil that can be sold to increase the amount of money for children’s services at the CBO. Exploring such interconnected solutions will further fortify the impact of our programs and will empower our communities to think creatively in how they can best address the challenges they face around Planet and Prosperity. We particularly appreciated our expert’s willingness to answer follow up questions and provide additional resources around incentivizing volunteers and exploring technologies like mobile data collection. He also gave us particularly helpful advice about the importance of training those conducting our focus groups. To ensure this practice was happening, we discussed its importance with our Program Director, who outlined the program team’s approach to the feedback culture (which is now included as a photo in the Beneficiary Feedback summary above). Thanks again, Matt! Finally, we want to acknowledge the significant contribution of our former colleague, Eliza Rosenbaum Kahn, in inspiring us to learn more about Human Centered Design and how it can transform our programs. Her hands-on approach to prototyping, gathering feedback, and incorporating community reflections into our program model has helped us further develop existing relationships with our communities and the children they serve.

Note that you may also edit any of your previous answers within the proposal. Here is a great place to note any big final changes or iterations you have made to your proposal below:

Responses from our focus group confirmed significant community buy-in, a critical component to our program’s success, and the interconnectivity of extreme poverty and the multifaceted vulnerabilities children face. As such, in this proposal, we’ve incorporated quotes from our beneficiaries that supplement the answers we previously provided. We added a number of photos and visuals that we hope will represent out programs and our values, including our commitment to community empowerment and collaboration. This even includes a photo of our process for the User Map for this application, which involved a number of Zoom calls and brainstorming sessions with our Malawi team. We also further broke out the ripple effect of Planet and Prosperity in the first section, which we hope will articulate how positives and negatives can compound upon each other to significantly alter outcomes for children and their communities. By bridging these two critical areas, we can ensure all children get the care they deserve. In addition to changes made due to beneficiary feedback, we've also continued to work with our coaches to refine our presentation. In particular, we edited portions of our proposal that outlined how we work with Hive Group, a private sector beekeeping expert, and how they are helping us build a market for honey. We developed additional supplemental materials, which include how we are bridging gaps between beekeepers and marketplaces. We are happy to further expand on the questions raised by our coaches, and see a lot of potential in partnerships across sectors. The Hive Group experts are not only acting as guaranteed buyers for all honey our beekeepers wish to sell to them (Hive Group processes the honey for sale in peri-urban and urban markets and shops), but they will also help our beekeepers learn honey processing and marketing techniques that will allow beekeepers to reserve portions of their harvest for sale in their local market. This is particularly of interest for Yamba Malawi, as demand for honey is increasing in villages due to it's use as both a food product and for other health and healing properties. This will allow for increased economic stimulus and diversification in local markets that can otherwise be volatile. Moreover, by working with partners to further expand our value chain, our beekeepers can realize increased profits that they can use for children's care. You can see more information about this in the above sections. Finally, while not explicitly stated in this application, we want to acknowledge the questions and suggestions raised by the Bridgebuilder community. While each question was not necessarily transcribed into our application, these conversations allowed us to explore a number of different areas and thought process that have helped us refine our process and programs.

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

The Project recognizes childhood vulnerability is dependent on many factors, from the economic stability to how climate change impacts communities. Therefore, Yamba Malawi bridges Prosperity and Planet with a holistic approach to childhood wellbeing that centers on sustainable, environmental, and scalable businesses, financial training, and services that reduce childhood vulnerability. Inspired by lessons from our pilot, these extended services create safety nets that empower communities to move out of extreme poverty into livelihoods that help them improve nutrition, health, education, and the environment. The Project includes 50 household-level businesses that benefit 200 children, as well as one community-level business, which generates revenue for community programs (i.e. feeding programs, early childhood education) that benefit 1,500 children. At both levels, the Project includes individual, peer-to-peer, and community training that ensures the use of best practices across honey businesses, financial management, and childhood wellbeing. At the request of the community, we are simultaneously launching household and community-level businesses, which results in a both a meaningful impact on thousands of children and the improvement of economic stability at the community level. In addition, the environment surrounding the apiaries will be fortified with over 20,000 trees, 4 hectares of forest will be protected, and low-producing farmland will be converted into a community forest to house future hives. With this, the Project will mitigate the effects of soil runoff, deforestation, and desertification. The community will conserve the ecosystem, while simultaneously providing jobs that benefit the most vulnerable children. In short, caregivers and communities will have the resources, knowledge, and support systems needed to be fully independent, to break the cycle of poverty, and to give the next generation the happy, healthy childhoods they deserve.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries are vulnerable children and youth aged 0-24 and their caregivers in Lilongwe District, Malawi. Seventy percent of all Malawians live on less than two dollars a day, and eighty percent live in rural areas with economic instability, diminished infrastructure, and poor health and education outcomes. Recognizing the impact these challenges have on children, the Project uses community feedback to target vulnerable populations who are outside of traditional market approaches. Because beekeeping is a more passive livelihood, it is well-suited for caregivers who are ill, elderly, or impoverished and lacking sufficient farmable land. Honey is a critical source of income that helps caregivers supplement their current livelihood and purchase necessities like food, school supplies, and healthcare for children in their care. This economic stimulus is paired with mentorship to ensure caregivers have the training necessary to maximize the impact of profits on childhood wellbeing.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

While inspired by poverty graduation theory, Yamba Malawi created a unique, holistic child-centered livelihoods program comprised of three components—business investment, financial training, and mentorship on childhood wellbeing—that empowers communities to invest in their children’s futures. Our all-Malawian program staff leads human-centered, expert-led, and peer-to-peer trainings with a scalable model that addresses the specific needs of each child and caregiver. This means increased opportunities to address immediate and long-term needs, more engaged community changemakers, and sustainability that translates into a bigger impact across the entire community. Additionally, our program uniquely addresses the intersection between Prosperity and Planet by addressing short- and long-term climate issues while also providing sustainable incomes that can impact other areas of vulnerability.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Early Adoption: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have begun to expand the pilot for early adoption.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Yamba Malawi uses business, financial training, and mentorship around childhood wellbeing to empower vulnerable communities to break the cycle of poverty and invest in their children’s futures.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

After years of partnering with communities, community feedback indicated many other NGO interventions failed due to issues that are outside of their intended scope—i.e. scholarships being wasted because climate change results in low farm yields and increases in childhood labor. The multifaceted nature of vulnerability requires a holistic approach, and our child-focused livelihoods program now addresses key needs around food, education, health, protection, and environment.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

In Malawi, Prosperity and Planet are inherently intertwined, as the agricultural economy leaves the country particularly susceptible to climate change’s negative consequences. Recent droughts and floods have led to poor crop yields, food shortages, hunger, and the spread of disease, all of which have a serious impact on children. With increased economic instability, households are turning towards unsustainable businesses like charcoal making, selling land, and practicing unsustainable farming practices, which further degrade the environment. By introducing a livelihood that not only mitigates these environmental concerns but directly counters them, the Project provides a model for climate-smart businesses that can generate income independently, can incorporate reforestation, conservation, and environmental education components, and can increase crop yields by encouraging the return of honeybees to areas with extensive farming activities.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Partnerships with communities, NGOs, local governments, and the private sector are critical to our programs and plans to scale. We work with local leaders to identify community needs, to facilitate baseline interviews, and to help with our orientation process. These leaders are fundamental resources to our beneficiaries, as they troubleshoot challenges, act as social safety nets, and increase the sustainability of the program. We partner with government agencies, such as the Ministry of Forestry and the Department of Social Welfare, to reinforce best practices across content areas. We also work with Hive Group, a private sector company, to source inputs, to provide expertise, and to act as a guaranteed buyer for harvested honey. We are partnering with NGOs to provide additional support and expertise around our financial and childhood wellbeing training models.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Learnings from the pilot and a strong community relationship will result in improved viability and sustainability. We have significant community participation, including the lease of protected forested land from respected leaders, community involvement in beneficiary selection, a donated building for honey processing, and donated land for conversion into a forest for future program growth. Together, these factors increase profitability and position the Project for growth.

Geographic Focus

Rural villages in Traditional Authority Chiseka, Lilongwe District, Malawi

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The Project’s three-year graduation timeline centers on empowerment and sustainability. Upon graduation, caregivers will have the resources and skills to run successful businesses, manage profits, and invest in food, education, and healthcare for their children. They will be empowered to continue practicing what they learned, to further grow their businesses, to conserve the environment, and to maintain peer relationships that reinforce best practices across all content areas.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No
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Attachments (3)

Program Info Abridged.pdf

A short infographic describing the components of our program theory.

How Bee Projects Work.pdf

A short infographic showing our beekeeping model—from what happens when someone is enrolled in the program to the outcomes and impact on children.

Human Centered Design Thinking.pdf

Visual depictions of how Yamba Malawi incorporates inspiration, ideation, and implementation as we work together to best address the challenges facing Malawi's most vulnerable children.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Christina Schwanke

Kathleen Rommel 

This idea is so interesting. In some ways it is like our idea Rural Synergy Foundation- Bridging Urban and Rural for Peace and Economic Sustainability creating an income for vulnerable populations in rural areas. In our research and advisement we have been strongly warned about going into a community and handing our goods or money but to create a model they can sustain if we are to leave. I see that you are equipping people to make an income and that will translate into them passing it to others. I really love how it intersects with the planet and caring for the bee population. Thank you for sharing your work! Good look in your endeavor. I would love to follow your project after the completion of this challenge. You can connect with me on Linkedin: or let me know if I can follow you on Facebook!

Best Wishes,

Photo of Marnie Glazier

I agree with Christina - and am especially impressed by the approach you're taking in providing the tools that can sustain youth and community members well beyond the confines of this program. Great work!

Photo of Kathleen Rommel

Hi Christina,

I couldn't agree more! It's so important to engage with the community and to help them build a solution that is appropriate and empowering. It's been amazing to see how impactful this can be, and our organization is incredibly proud of all the hard work our Malawian program team is doing to build relationships that foster real, sustainable change. I am happy to hear you this approach!

I'll find you on LinkedIn, and best of luck!


Photo of Kathleen Rommel

Thanks, Marnie! We are incredibly proud of all the inspiring commitment our communities have, including the way they share knowledge with people who aren't directly enrolled in the program. It's this kind of ripple effect that really enables meaningful change!

Photo of Christina Schwanke

Kathleen Rommel 

Thank you for your reply! I could not agree more. You should be incredibly proud! I look forward to your connection!


Photo of Christina Schwanke

Marnie Glazier you are always to encouraging! It is fun to engage with you on so many levels! Your project looks great!


Photo of Marnie Glazier

Likewise, Christina! I just spoke of you today in a meeting with out Philanthropy Director at the college, and he was very interested in your project. I am still hoping we can collaborate as we go forward.

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