Photography by Viktor Parfenov and Tatsiana Skobeleva

In November 2020, Natallia Vasko, Director of the Private Socio-Ecological Institution “Beekeeping Development APIMIR”, became the winner of the Contest of Entrepreneurship Development Initiatives with the initiative “ApiMir: New Opportunities for Rural Business”. With the financial support of the European Union as part of the project “Support to Economic Development at the Local Level in the Republic of Belarus”, Natallia plans to open a Support Center for Novice Beekeepers in the Žlobin district.

“I had the idea to open a support center to promote beekeeping for a long time, but I did not have a complete business plan and funding. In May 2020, I did an online course at the School “Social Entrepreneur” run by Žlobin Business Incubator “Clever.by”. With the help of professional trainers, I developed a clear plan, defined goals, and did all the calculations. My business plan turned out to be one of the best among the School participants. My goal is to attract as many people as possible to beekeeping, because this is a worthwhile and profitable business that is beneficial both for nature and people,” said Natallia.

To popularize beekeeping in the community, the Center will have a demonstration area, where excursions for novice beekeepers and art picnics will be held. During the sessions, participants will be able to learn how to get started in beekeeping and about some peculiarities of keeping bees.

The Center will have a shared access facility, where the necessary equipment will be installed, including a honey extractor, a wax melter, filters and a table for unsealing honeycombs. And in the carpentry workshop, wood products for beekeeping such as beehives, frames, containers for beekeeping products and other related supplies will be manufactured.

Natallia learned beekeeping from her father-in-law, Alexander Petrovich, a beekeeper with 17 years of experience. Not only did she manage to continue the family tradition, but she also brought the family business to the next level by adding a social component to the business. This amazing woman has a lot of charisma, passion and dedication to her work.

Natallia’s far-reaching plans include the creation of a bee laboratory, where bee colonies will be hatched, and the construction of an apitherapy house (“apidomik”) to provide hive house therapy - “sleep in a beehive”.

The initiative is expected to help create a partnership network among local artisans and entrepreneurs, and increase the number of rural residents interested in starting a beekeeping business.

This initiative offers great benefits. Residents of the district will have an opportunity to gain additional income, and for some of them this will be a chance to change their life and become beekeepers or manufacturers of beekeeping supplies. Local residents and guests will be offered high-quality, eco-friendly and healthy beekeeping products and will be able to improve their health.

The initiative contributes to the solution of the global challenge of preserving and multiplying the bee population, and is also beneficial for the local economy, since bee pollination is essential for many crops important for agriculture.

The business incubator “Clever.by” was opened in Žlobin as part of the Project “Support to Economic Development at the Local Level in the Republic of Belarus” in early 2020. In May 2020, the business incubator launched a training course for residents of Žlobin at the School “Social Entrepreneur”. This was practical hands-on training online for aspiring entrepreneurs. The course covered an extensive programme, which included social entrepreneurship, design thinking, business planning, brand and image building, marketing strategy for a social enterprise and its promotion, company project activities, bookkeeping and tax optimization.

The Project “Support to Economic Development at the Local Level in the Republic of Belarus” is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Belarus in partnership with the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Belarus.

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