Seth and Purity grew up watching their parents produce honey from beehives in their own backyard. Years later, while working in the Kenyan Air Force, Purity decided she wanted to continue her family’s legacy. She and her brother Seth applied for Somo’s entrepreneurship boot camp and went on to found PurYSeth Honey. They continue to use their parents original harvesting methods but now brand and package their honey, allowing them to distribute it throughout their community of Githurai.
Seth explains that honey is an important staple as it can be used to treat a variety of conditions, from dandruff and allergies to coughs and burns. Honey has not only been used as a sweetener for hundreds of years, he notes, but also can control blood sugar levels and even treat insomnia. Additionally, it is often much cheaper than other treatments commonly prescribed, making it an accessible option for low-income people.
Furthermore, honey is a healthier alternative to sugar and other processed sweeteners. Unfortunately, Purity notes, fake honey is often sold within informal markets, such as the one in which PurYSeth currently operates. This fake honey, made with a mix of corn syrup, dextrose, and other additives, lack the health benefits of pure honey. “Many of our potential customers have bought fake honey at some point and so now are afraid of buying honey again,” explains Seth. PurYSeth, however, uses no additives and harvests their honey directly from the beehives. As part of their marketing strategy, Seth and Purity work to educate their customers on the benefits of pure and organically harvested honey.
Currently, PurYSeth harvests their honey in Purity and Seth’s home county of Kitui. Here, they carefully separate the honey from the wax inside the beehives then send it to Githurai where it is packaged and distributed. Because their honey is cheaper than other honey producers in Nairobi, PurYSeth is able to sell to communities of various income levels. They are also contracted with Nairobi Technical Training Institute, where they make monthly deliveries of honey to the school’s teachers and students.
However, Seth and Purity, like many entrepreneurs from informal settlements, are still struggling to bring their business into the formal sector. “PurYSeth is still not fully registered with the Kenya Bureau of Standards,” explains Seth, “Registration costs 20,000 ksh which is higher than we can afford at the moment.” The high cost of the application process is a barrier to entry for many low-income entrepreneurs. However, Seth notes, “My records speak for themselves.” PurYSeth’s sales are high at the moment and growing each quarter, proving the business to be a profitable model for selling organic honey within the informal sector.
Before launching PurYSeth, Purity and Seth went through Somo’s training program. “Somo has helped teach us a lot about running a business,” notes Purity. “Through the trainings,” Seth adds, “we learned how to find and maintain customers as well as make financial projections and budgets.”
In the future, Seth and Purity hope to expand their business to include candle making. “We want to recycle the wax used in our honey production and turn this into candles,” Seth explains. Because PurYSeth would make their candles from a waste product, they will be able to sell at very low prices. Candles are commonly used in informal settlements as they are relatively inexpensive compared to other light sources. Not only would a candle business provide people from their community with a cheap light source, Seth explains, but it would also “create many job opportunities as PurYSeth expands its size.”
Visit PurYSeth’s shop in Githurai or pick up a jar at Somo's PopUp Shop on Kibera Drive today.