Bee Inspired!

Updated: May 21, 2019

How to create a ground-breaking social enterprise with no information and no ideas? The team of of our 13th Capability Program proved to be incredibly flexible - and created tangible impact in a township in South Africa.

The challenge of the 13th Capability Program (CAP13) was very broad and required a lot of creativity from the team. Traditionally, the BOOKBRIDGE business model has been to open Learning Centres – there are 23 to date.

CAP 13’s social enterprise was not going to be a Learning Centre; as a team we were told the new challenge was to create a sustainable social enterprise that would create impact.

As a team we knew the country was going to be South Africa and more specifically an informal settlement named Orange Farm. We had already been assigned am aspiring social entrepeneur from Orange Farm – Keitumetse.

Social Entrepreneur Keitumetse and her team member

We initially came up with 3 ideas, split into 3 teams and prototyped the ideas. From there we decided on a ‘generic concept’ we needed a product that originated in Orange Farm that could be then sold into the wider South African network specifically starting with some target customers - corporate companies in Johannesburg.

Because of the lack of information we needed to make some initial assumptions. This helped the team to get to the solution quicker. We brainstormed ideas regularly and made decisions based on consensus votes within the team, this enabled the project to move forward at the pace needed. One of the main decisions we made via this technique was our actual final business idea. The outcome was to start a ‘Bee keeping’ business, this would entail the following:

  1. To train community members in Orange Farm how to become a beekeeper in order to produce honey.

  2. Sell honey to corporate companies in Johannesburg as client/employee gifts (this would enable the company to branch outside of Orange Farm. The key for the corporates would be the enhancement of their CSR involvement alongside the environmental benefits).

  3. We had a longer term plan to branch out and sell other products made from honey and related to honey such as spices/flowers. We also thought of topics such as ‘sponsor a bee hive’.

Throughout the project the team remained very open minded and adapted to situations and issues as they arose – the plan will always CHANGE so you need to remain agile.

The Township of Orange Farm, South Africa

A good advantage for the team was that we met our social entrepreneur at the very start of the project so she was able to help solve the challenge with us in person. It also helped us to create an initial close connection with the community hero that continued to become stronger over the course of the project.

Our team had lots of amazing recommendations so here are our favourites for new candidates joining the program:

  • Believe in yourself, the team and the idea

  • Every day challenge each other – Why should become your favourite word!

  • Have the end goal front of mind always

  • Ensure you don’t get stuck on the detail and work with what you have

  • Stay flexible, use whatever works for your team (our team mainly used WhatsApp for communicating as this was best for us)

  • Communicate openly and honestly at all times and ensure you keep a positive attitude

  • Finally leverage the full team and your teams wider network. We are sure you will reveal many hidden talents.

Bee courageous – you will step into unknown territory on a regular basis but remember have lots of fun in the process!

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