York circles the Equator


Pictured above: VP Research & Innovation Stan Shapson congratulates Farouk Jiwa on winning the Equator Initiative Prize. Beside Jiwa is John Herity of Environment Canada. On the far right in the photo is Brian Davy of the IDRC.

Farouk Jiwa is making a name for himself and for York halfway around the world. This York master’s student was announced as the winner of the Equator Initiative Prize at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg last month. The prize honours community-based projects from around the world that are within the Equatorial Belt and represent outstanding efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Jiwa, who is primarily focusing on the role of business in promoting sustainable livelihoods, is also taking a graduate diploma in Business and the Environment through the Schulich School of Business and the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) at York University.

“Farouk”s field research is an outstanding example of how sustainable livelihoods can be created in poor countries through the integration of environment, community and business considerations,” says FES Professor Rob Macdonald, Farouk”s academic supervisor.

As a follow-up to the event in Johannesburg, Jiwa was honoured at a reception at York when he was presented with a cheque for US$30,000. Representatives from Environment Canada and the IDRC (International Development Research Council) were on hand at the ceremony.

Jiwa is has plans for the money. It will go into Honey Care Africa, of which he is the general manager. With the help of two like-minded investors, Jiwa started Honey Care Africa soon after he began his master’s degree at York. In the two and-a-half years since its inception, Honey Care Africa Limited “has been working in partnership with numerous international development organizations to help rural subsistence farmers across Kenya start beekeeping as a supplementary source of income,” Jiwa explained.

Thanks to Honey Care, there are now over 2,500 small-scale subsistence farmers involved in beekeeping, with each one able to earn US$200-250 per year – “an amount that is often enough to make the difference between living above or below the poverty line.”

Honey Care provides access to soft loans for interested farmers as well as the required technical and management training for beekeeping. It then provides extension and technical advisory services to these new beekeepers, often in collaboration with the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

“Most importantly,” said Jiwa, “Honey Care provides a guaranteed market for the honey at a fair and mutually-agreeable price. It has a strict no nonsense ‘Money for Honey’ policy, and pays cash on-the-spot to the rural beekeepers.

Honey Care Africa was among 27 initiatives selected from over 420 nominations from 77 countries to receive this prestigious international award. The event was organised by the Government of Canada, the IUCN, the Nature Conservancy, the IDRC, the UNDP, the Television Trust for the Environment (TVE), and the United Nations Foundation.

To learn more about Honey Care, access this Web site: http://biodiversityeconomics.org/pdf/020831-17.PDF