The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) and the Mastercard Foundation have forged a transformative alliance with the launch of the Mass Youth Employment in Apiculture Programme (MaYEA) in Ethiopia. This five-year initiative is poised to directly benefit one million unemployed Ethiopian youth, focusing on the realm of beekeeping.
Empowering Vulnerable Groups
MaYEA is strategically designed to allocate 80% of its employment opportunities to vulnerable, rural, and peri-urban young women. Additionally, it dedicates an extra 10% to individuals with disabilities and refugees. The Mastercard Foundation has committed a substantial USD 79.96 million for the program, with USD 9.3 million earmarked for icipe to execute the initiative.
Leveraging Past Success
The initiative leverages the success of previous endeavors, particularly the Young Entrepreneurs in Silk and Honey project (YESH) and the More Young Entrepreneurs in Silk and Honey project (MOYESH). These projects, implemented over eight years, established a highly successful model for integrated beekeeping, generating dignified jobs for over 144,000 young people, with a significant representation of women.
Strengthening Partnerships: A Wider Consortium
MaYEA builds on past achievements and widens its reach by incorporating an even broader consortium of partners. Collaborators include ORDA Ethiopia, International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), Bees for Development Ethiopia (BfDE), Population Health and Environment Ethiopian Consortium (PHE-EC), SOS Sahel Ethiopia, and Movement for Ecological Learning and Community Action-Ethiopia (MELCA-Ethiopia).
Dr. Segenet Kelemu's Perspective
Dr. Segenet Kelemu, Director General and CEO of icipe, underscores the transformative potential of beekeeping beyond honey production. She emphasizes the multifunctional roles played by honey bees in vital insect pollination services, contributing to food and industrial crops, forages, forest trees, and plant biodiversity.
Sustainable Impact: MaYEA's Holistic Approach
MaYEA aspires to sustainably improve plant, human, and environmental health by using integrated beekeeping as an entry point. The program seeks to empower young women and men by providing essential skills, tools, and resources for building sustainable enterprises. It also aims to establish market linkages, fostering the development of the apiculture sector and allied value chains while contributing to environmental regeneration.
YESH and MOYESH Legacy
The MaYEA program builds on the foundation established through YESH and MOYESH, aligning with national and regional development agendas in Ethiopia. The collaborative relationship with government partners, strategies to address systemic challenges in the apiculture value chain, and innovative approaches to enable greater female participation in beekeeping form the core of this initiative.
Local Government Support
Local governments have committed to allocate land to youth enterprises, promoting a compelling and sustainable approach to safeguarding natural resources. This allocation, often in degraded areas or adjacent to ecosystems in need of rehabilitation, contributes to the mainstreaming of beekeeping as a lucrative income generation occupation. It also facilitates agribusiness diversification.
Fostering Knowledge and Entrepreneurship
MaYEA incorporates a unique training format that promotes both knowledge and social capital. This includes technical skills for honey bee colony multiplication, queen bee rearing, honey and beeswax production, postharvest handling methods, processing, packaging, and entrepreneurial skills development. The aim is to equip youth partners with the necessary hard and soft skills to successfully own and run beekeeping businesses.
Business-to-Business Linkages and Digital Marketing
The program introduces business-to-business linkages and digital marketing technologies, fostering alliances among banks and microfinance institutions. These financial partnerships aim to advance loanable funds to youth enterprises. Additionally, MaYEA creates novel opportunities for input suppliers, supporting the manufacturing of frame hives and protective beekeeping clothing.
MaYEA's Vision for Ethiopian Honey Brands
Looking ahead, Samuel Yalew Adela, Mastercard Foundation Country Director for Ethiopia, envisions MaYEA attracting the next generation of young beekeepers, particularly women. The program aims to propel high-quality, high-volume honey production and value addition, creating Ethiopian honey brands for international markets. Through strategic skills development, market access, improved technologies, and financial services, MaYEA aspires to enable over a million young people, with a special focus on empowering 800,000 young women.
A Collaborative Journey for Sustainable Livelihoods
The MaYEA program represents a collaborative journey between icipe and the Mastercard Foundation to empower Ethiopian youth, foster innovation, and contribute to the global recognition of Ethiopian honey. With a commitment to sustainability and inclusivity, MaYEA embarks on a transformative path, nurturing strong local partners and creating a legacy of sustainable livelihoods for young women in Ethiopia.