Let them revive, hiving smarter
The most unexpected circumstances lead us to a creative road if we really take a closer look at the things that dishearten us. Abiye Tadeos is an ambitious social entrepreneur aspiring to improve the lives of many. Emrakel Sileshi of Detail Ethiopia spoke to Abiye, a cofounder of Anabi. Anabi is one of the rising startups under blueMoon Ethiopia, an incubation center for innovative agribusiness ideas. Anabi’s stated mission is to tackle the main challenges confronting the apiculture industry in Ethiopia and modernize it using technology for a better and faster outcome.
Detail Ethiopia: Tell us a bit about yourself and your project.
Abiye Tadeos: A computer engineer by training I’m the co-founder of Anabi, a startup working on smart bee keeping services in order to sustain bees in the planet’s ecosystem. Anabi mainly focuses on modernizing the beekeeping culture using technology to prevent colony loss and minimizing operation cost. As beekeepers use the technology on crops they can get higher yields compared to what’s being grown on land. As honey is in great demand in the country I felt that that I could do something to computerize the process using technology. That’s where Anabi comes in.
Detail Ethiopia: What made you interested in apiculture to begin with?
Abiye Tadeos: I came into the idea about a year ago when I was visiting southwest Ethiopia. I really understood then the struggle of the industry and felt inspired to start Anabi given its potential.
Detail Ethiopia: What’s the most important problem you are trying to solve?
Abiye Tadeos: In Ethiopia beekeeping is more of a traditional practice. The problem comes from the technical side. Despite its availability, the supply of honey is not constant due to a weak market chain. We believe our company enables beekeepers to provide a constant supply of honey in an effective way. If they use our technology they can achieve a 30% growth in yield on average. When we look at the management of bee hives it’s quite time-consuming. Managing bee hives by itself disrupts the life cycle of the bee colony. We believe we can tackle this challenge and fill the gaps.
Detail Ethiopia: How big is the market opportunity right now?
Abiye Tadeos: I believe apiculture has the potential to grow exponentially. The demand for honey is soaring on the back of the rise in domestic consumption as well as export by different customers and organizations. The natural resources the country is endowed with and its human capital also play a significant role in the abundance of honey. In Ethiopia the value of bees is estimated to be over tens of billions of birr. How much market we can capture, we’re not sure but that’s how huge the bee market is. Anabi has been working intensely on exploiting this potential.
Detail Ethiopia: How would you describe the total addressable market?
Abiye Tadeos: I’d say it goes down to our business model. We try to work with exporters and processers. We prefer not to engage directly with the farmers. It’s going to be hard. So we try to find our niche and people that are growing fruits, vegetables in a well-structured way. Those are the people we want to work with. So I can’t give you an exact figure on how much the addressable market right is now but it’s quite attainable.
Detail Ethiopia: How is blueMoon Ethiopia supporting you and how does the process work?
Abiye Tadeos: blueMoon Ethiopia is an incubation center for innovative agribusiness ideas. The incubation lasts for a while. Thereafter it becomes a business partnership. We are actively engaged and presently undergoing steps towards that end. Publicly blueMoon Ethiopia has 10% equity. But the business will not stay that way. Depends on the business strategy and status, other investments, a variety of promised things…These things define it. blueMoon Ethiopia’s incubation has helped our start up interms of business development, networking, branding the company. It has been particularly valuable in skills and capacity building. Though we co-founded Anabi with blueMoon Ethiopia we can raise its capital when the need arises. That’s just how business works. That we got to work with blueMoon Ethiopia founder Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin was really great for us. We mostly communicate through emails and when needed we hold meetings and discuss our status and share useful insights. During our phase of incubation, we did our branding together. This was really cool.
Detail Ethiopia: Who are your competitors, and what makes your startup different?
Abiye Tadeos: Globally there are many competitors. Though they are indirect competitors, at least 10 startups are undertaking similar projects like ours. The competition is indirect in the sense that startups manage bees in a traditional way and really don’t care about their bees and take them for granted; they just want to get honey year after year after year. Our advantage is that we use technology to augment the demand-supply chain. What is the need for all these investments, especially if they don’t have the money to use our equipment? So we have a lot to do with awareness creation and adaptability of our product. We’re trying to partner with exporters and processors mainly. That’s our priority for now.
Detail Ethiopia: Where does Anabi stand now?
Abiye Tadeos: So far we have developed a prototype, it’s in the laboratory. For now we are in the process of finalizing partners and getting things done. We have early adopters at the time being. However, we’re in a bit of delay considering the misfortune we’re facing right now. We hope to reach more customers with our marketing strategy. We’re also working with Holetta as partners and trying to reach out to other investors that we won’t reveal for now.
Detail Ethiopia: What are the biggest challenges you are facing now?
Abiye Tadeos: Currently, the major problem we’re facing is shortage of foreign exchange. Moreover, policies for startups are not as flexible as we want them to be. Customer acquisition is another problem area. We are trying our best to overcome these problems. If all goes as planned we expect our company to turn profitable within 3 years.
Detail Ethiopia: Do you have anything else to add?
Abiye Tadeos: I try to understand how startups balance and compete in the market and how effective they’d be under incubation programs to give a chance to ideas like Anabi. We’re going to keep working no matter what. At the end it’s about being a hardworker and believing in yourself and your ideas and with this opportunity we can achieve more and be helpful.