Oxford Microfinance Initiative is a student-run consultancy providing a link between microfinance institutions and the Oxford student population. As part of a small team working for COAM, we have been involved in conducting research and developing a marketing strategy over the past four months. This has been an incredibly interesting experience thus far, offering a real insight into the various aspects of the beekeeping programme launched by COAM and the different challenges it faces as a newly established project and indeed as a relatively new organisation, set up less than four years ago.
Our initial sessions were spent learning more about the work of COAM’s Bamyan office in community-based conservation, natural resource management and sustainable livelihood development so that our later work would be sensitive to the organisation’s vision and to the ground realities in Afghanistan. We developed a mission statement as a team to ensure that we all had shared goals and we have now constructed an information base report. This research has looked at a range of areas, including an exploration of domestic bee production, both national and international market access, packaging and value added products, and an examination of the potential constraints to marketing and sales. We are now currently working on the development of a solid and reliable marketing strategy which will enable the beekeeping participants to maximise their profits in light of sustainable and growing marketing opportunities. The framework employed has been adapted from private sector firms and we are confident that these will be helpful in a development context. We will be looking at both short-term and long-term potential strategies. It has been particularly rewarding to collaborate with COAM on this project and we are hopeful that the partnership will be mutually beneficial.