By ABIMA NORBERT BUTELE
Honey Shop is an agribusiness project started by two former senior six students, one by the name of Reagan Richard Okia, and the other Norbert Butele Abima. The idea of utilizing the confectionery as well as the health benefits of natural honey to provide a suitable substitute for processed sugar was conceived by the duo in a school classroom towards the end of 2019. Furthermore, honey is becoming increasingly popular with the Ugandan market.
However, the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic has been a bottleneck for the project which was started in February 2020. The pandemic has been an impediment to the manifestation of an idea to channel the development of entrepreneurship skills and much-needed income for the team with dreams of joining the university in the 2020-2021 academic year.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, the supply chain for natural unfiltered honey from readily available sources like Arua and Nebbi districts has been cut off due to their being border districts. This has terminally led to limited quantities of the natural honey in the Kampala metropolitan area which happens to be the major market for the product. Ultimately, this has limited any sort of progress in the business, causing losses.
Furthermore, the closure of public transport until recent weeks as a mechanism for limiting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has hindered any possible transportation of honey products to retailers. Consequently, the product has remained boxed and unable to access the consumer market where it is on-demand.
There has also been a sharp decline in the demand for honey products due to the fact that the primary consumers have had to prioritize necessities such as food, water, and electricity. This owing to the increased levels of contract terminations and pay cuts by employers that have been put out of business by the strict government guidelines of social distancing to control the spread of the Coronavirus.
Honey is an important ingredient in many recipes including confectioneries as well as the trademark sticky wings recipe by the Kentucky Fried Chicken(KFC) franchise run by Kuku foods in Uganda. However, due to the closure of restaurants until recently, there has been a reduction of clients in need of honey-based confectioneries and KFC’s sticky wings. This has in turn prevented Honey Shop from being able to supply honey that would be needed to make these products. As a result, the business has failed to profit.
In a nutshell, Honey Shop is a textbook example of small businesses in Uganda facing a steep decline owing to the economic and social impact of the Coronavirus. This has left hopes, dreams, and ambitions shattered with no sign of hope in the foreseeable future.