Congolese woman excels in beekeeping

Goma, DR Congo — In the eastern reaches of the Democratic Republic of Congo, women entrepreneurs in Goma continue to catch the eye of the business world, thanks to their creativity and resilience. Thirty-year-old Deborah Nzarubara is one of Central Africa’s pioneers of beekeeping, repeatedly recognized worldwide for the quality of her honey and its contribution to environmental preservation.

Armed with courage and the desire to face down the myth that women and bees can’t cohabitate, she’s become a world-renowned beekeeper.

When she was growing up, she says, she loved just looking at bees. People used to tell her that a woman couldn’t be a beekeeper because if she tried to keep the bees, they’d leave. It wasn’t true.

For Nzarubara, the first step in changing the game was to create an association to raise awareness about the environmental value of bee protection, and then build a business around it.

When she saw that she was starting to produce a lot for her association, she says, the idea of setting up a business came to her. Today, with her company, Green Community Mind, or GRECOM, she sells honey and beeswax, transforms honey into ointments and organizes training courses for aspiring beekeepers.

More than 1,500 beekeepers have already been trained by GRECOM, including some 100 women such as Rehema Mapendo, who now feeds her family thanks to beekeeping.

Today, she says, she has at least eight hives from which she harvests honey. Selling it helps her pay school fees and meet other household needs.

Emmanuel Ndimwiza, an environmental expert, points out the vital ecological importance of bees, suggesting that Congolese lawmakers introduce legislation to protect the increasingly endangered species.

He says that bees play a major role in pollination, because without bees, you can’t have fruit. In pollination, bees move from flower to flower, fertilizing plants. Today, if bees were to disappear, as Albert Einstein once said, humanity would only have to wait four years before being definitively destroyed.

In recent years, GRECOM has won numerous continental and worldwide awards for its performance.

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