When Tanzanian businessman Joseph Kadendula, CEO and co-founder of Central Park Bees and its retail brand Swahili Honey, decided to set up an apiary, he had no knowledge of bees. What he did have was an innate passion for entrepreneurship and was fascinated with farming; for the rest, he trained himself using Google and YouTube.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur since 2005. I originally sold mobile phones that I would purchase in bulk, adding a margin for resale. This helped me to gather some capital that I used for farming, which was always my main interest,” says Kadendula.
After obtaining his bachelor of commerce degree in international business at the University of Dodoma, he began farming in earnest with onions, tomatoes, capsicum and cucumber in an area outside the capital Dodoma. It was the existence of too many middlemen that eventually led him to question the viability of this business venture.
“There were so many people between the production of the crops and the client. There was very little direct access for the farmer to the market and I felt like I had no control,” he remembers. While on a trip to China to procure farming equipment in 2013, Kadendula saw the prominence of honey in this market. Back home in Tanzania, most local honey was sold on the side of the road as a way to earn a little extra income.
Kadendula wondered if honey could be commercialised and, without any honey production in place, bought his first processing machine. Next came the search for commercial beehives. Having no luck in Tanzania, Kadendula imported his first hives from neighbouring Kenya.
“The beehive supplier provided some training and that’s where I learnt the basics of beekeeping. I spent a lot of time doing research online and watching YouTube videos to see what others were doing.”
In 2014, he started selling honey in the local market. It wasn’t long before Kadendula made better profits than he’d ever made with crop production. He approached his brother, Christopher Kadendula, and a friend, Charles Kazaula, and Central Park Bees was founded in 2015.