“Honey consumption (as compared to refined sugar or HFCS) leads directly to the formation of liver glycogen, thus stabilizing blood sugar levels. Honey thereby reduces metabolic stress and improves fat metabolism and disposal, thus combating two of the key parameters of the metabolic syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, and obesity.” -Dr. Ron Fessenden
This week we have the pleasure of talking to a young social entrepreneur, resilient and strong in her drive to bring pure undiluted honey to the people of Sierra Leone and beyond. She is into the agribusiness to make a difference. She packages and sells the best honey in Sierra Leone, source from the interiors of Kabala, Koinadugu District. So readers, please meet the owner and founder of Lyoasourced Company Limited. Ms. Juliana Thambie Sesay. You can reach her through her social media pages on Facebook and Instagram @ Lyoasourced. Co or you can send her an email to email@example.com
Raised in the Central District of Freetown. She attended the all-mighty Annie Walsh Memorial School and then proceeded to the Institute of Public Administration and Management, the University of Sierra Leone, where she bagged a honors degree in Financial Services. We hope you enjoy this week’s read as much as we did.
DS: Why did you choose to go into the honey business?
LS: When I started this company twenty months ago, there was a need to add value to our local produce, to brand them and display them in shops and supermarkets in Sierra Leone. There was so much local produce I was looking at before I started, with the intent to add value to them. But I needed to start with something and honey it was.
DS: How local is the honey?
LS: Lyoa Sourced Company is a small value-adding Agribusiness Company that started in July 2018. We source Honey and Beeswax from multiple bee hunters in the wild forests around Koinadugu District, Northern Sierra Leone. This supports sustainable beekeeping livelihoods in those communities. We do not heat or blend our honey to keep it in its raw state. This allows the natural enzymes and pollen particles to remain in the honey. As a result, it is not uncommon to occasionally find a spec of wax or pollen in the honey. By not overheating the micro-crystals or pollen, the honey may crystalize rapidly.
This is perfectly normal. Our honey is always unpasteurized and minimally filtered retaining its natural
DS: Have you tried to collaborate with the hospitality industry?
LS: Yes,! I have contacted many hotels in the country to supply them honey but a lot of them really prefer to buy it in gallons rather than the jars we sell. So far we supply Radisson blu, family kingdom, Wusum hotel in Makeni and a few others on and off.
DS: What are some of your challenges?
LS: The challenges are numerous for small startups in Sierra Leone, the major one for me is the lack of packaging industry in Sierra Leone. We have to source everything from Overseas and most of the time that triples our cost of production. Considering the devaluation of our currency to other foreign currencies used to buy overseas, every day we need to get more leones to be able to make a purchase of the same quantity of material previously bought at a certain price.
The time and cost factors of transporting those things from suppliers around the world to Sierra Leone is another challenge.
The business environment gets depressed over time due to the economic situation in the country.
Quite recently, I became a first-time mom and combining doing business and motherhood has also been challenging, especially for a small start-up like mine, without fix staff.
DS: Do you produce other things aside honey? LS: Yes I do produce Beeswax scented candles. We also do favors for special occasions and tons of gift ideas.
DS: What are some of your highlights? LS: Well in July we will be celebrating our second anniversary, we have been able to survive for two years. We also have contact buyers who will use nothing else but Lyoa Honey, our souvenir line is also growing. For instance, recently I realized that we can also customize the big jars for people when one of our customers required it. And I have recently been nominated for an award as an entrepreneur of the year (even though I have my reservations about that considering the difficult year I have had in my personal life I feel I could have done better this year)
DS: What are your goals for the next
LS: My five-year goals are huge: first of all exporting is major, the market in Sierra Leone is very small so to be financially stable to keep business running we are seriously looking at ways to get our product overseas. The first step is getting a website that I hope to get help with very soon.
We are also looking at creating varieties, not just honey and candles or souvenirs. There are so many other things we intend to do but will not mention here so as not to give ideas to other people.
And the ultimate goal is to have a supermarket of everything made in Sierra Leone.
DS: What’s your advice to young people that wants to venture into the honey industry
LS: Business is not easy, you need passion, dedication, and wit to be able to withstand and deliver. In the end, you will have the personal satisfaction of building something from nothing; there are few times when you are pleased with yourself for meeting deadlines and customer’s specifications but overall it is a very challenging venture and its not for the faint-hearted.
Well, readers, you read it first from here, the full story of Lyoasourced. We want to wish you all a happy International Women’s Day. It’s the Salone way or no way at all. Peace ✌️
Copyright by Rahima Vandy-Kargbo