During the summer of 2007, ten Gonzaga University students in the
Comprehensive Leadership Program (CLP) engaged in a month-long service-learning
course addressing intercultural leadership in Zambezi, Zambia. While there, the
students lived in a small village and worked on various service projects focusing
on teaching literacy to local Zambians.
During this time, students were encouraged to explore micro-finance initiatives that
would partner with local Zambians in a relationship that would bring opportunities to
this region. After tasting pure African honey, students spent time within the country
with local bee farmers, members of local government, and the Zambezi Catholic Mission
exploring ways to provide a sustainable market for fair trade organic forest honey in the US.
Initially it was thought that it would take two or more years to set up a supply chain,
but the discovery of Zam-Bee-A Honey Inc., a company founded by two former Peace Corp
volunteers that had developed the infrastructure to export honey from Zambia to the US
marketplace, sped up the process. They were willing to partner with the Gonzaga
University students to provide Zambian honey from the Northwest Province under a private
label. All of the proceeds from this rich, organic honey are returned to Zambezi, Zambia
in support of educational initiatives.
In November of 2007, Zambia Gold Organic Forest Honey received their first shipment and
began to sell the honey at Gonzaga University. After seeing the high demand, Zambia Gold
Honey expanded to include stores in the greater Spokane area later that year.
Throughout its three year existence, Zambia Gold has expanded its product market,
services and programs. As a supplement product, Zambia Gold began importing chitenge
(native Luvale word for wrap) bags, tote bags in 2009. These hand-crafted products are
made from traditional African fabric by men and women who receive a fair wage. In 2010,
Zambia Gold began partnering with a rising nonprofit in Northwest Zambia to sell eco-friendly
jewelry crafted by women in the community. Students from Gonzaga University who serve in
Zambia have also expanded their project,which include adolescent literacy classes, basic
computer seminars, leadership development, micro-finance initiatives, and health care outreach.