Mavis Nduchwa - founder and CEO, Chabana Farms, Botswana
2020 WE Empower Awardee, Sub-Saharan Africa
Food security and conflict with wildlife are salient issues in Sub-Saharan Africa but Mavis Nduchwa takes community care and conservation to the next level in Botswana. As the owner of Chabana Farms, trading as Kalahari Honey, Nduchwa has taken matters into her hands through mitigating wildlife conflict with elephants, providing stable work for women, preserving the food supply of her community, and empowering women to lead abuse-free lives. WE Empower intern, Sidney McKee, interviewed Nduchwa and expands upon how Chabana Farms is paving the way for community-based changemakers in Botswana and across the globe.
Nduchwa’s Chabana Farms is an innovative solution to an ancient issue. As Nduchwa explained, “On this side of the world, we’re still solving issues of hunger”. Even though elephants are often protected, wildlife conflict in Botswana is a serious issue. “A single elephant comes and wipes away your entire year of food supply within a few hours”. Historically, farmers have shot elephants to dissuade them from devouring crops, but Nduchwa takes advantage of community knowledge and has created “living fences” utilizing beehives to deter elephants from destroying fields and entering dangerous situations. Nduchwa hires local women to harvest the honey and pays them wages where they can support themselves and their families. This reduces gender inequalities and grants women the power they need to leave abusive situations. Nduchwa’s efforts have fostered a culture of balance for both humans and elephants in her community.
Since elephants naturally avoid bees, the over 5000 beehives that Nduchwa has fostered are ensuring food security for families. With goals to more than double the number of beehives in the community, Chabana Farms is furthering its efforts to create equitable and sustainable outcomes for the community. By preserving food supplies, Nduchwa is helping families to have the essentials that they need by supporting SDG 2 Zero Hunger.
Mitigating wildlife conflict
Through the conservation of elephants and the wise-use of honey bees, Chabana Farms promotes SDG 15 Life on Land. Since elephants are actively avoiding the boundaries of farms that have bees, migration patterns have changed, leading to less conflict with humans. A goal of Chabana Farms is “Creating balance for both humans and wildlife as well as the environment that they live in”. As Nduchwa clarified, “We are a honey aggregator that uses beekeeping as a tool to mitigate human and wildlife conflict and build sustainable communities”.
In many parts of the world, it is not safe to be a woman. In Botswana, women often do not have opportunities to support their families. If a woman is in an abusive relationship, she may not be able to seek refuge as she can not support herself on her own. “There are issues in communities with gender-based violence itself. Women are not able to stand up because they are dependent”. With Chabana farms, Nduchwa provides her employees with an income where they are empowered to take control of their own lives. This shows just how important Chabana Farms is when furthering SDG 5 Gender Equality.
Through Chabana Farms, Mavis Nduchwa is a female entrepreneur who is making a difference in her community. Nduchwa urges others to live out their dreams and support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as well. “We as women, need to stick together and raise each other up. It is up to us as women to tell our story and lift each other.”