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San Diego honey business lifts Congolese women out of poverty

Congolese honey farmers
Posted at 5:19 PM, Mar 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-05 20:57:06-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A woman moved to San Diego in February to start her honey business and pull Congolese women out of poverty.

Nohemie Mawaka grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"I have to say my parents, they are the pillar of what parents should be and if I can be at least 10% of the parent they were to me, I've done well," she said.

When she was 8-years-old they moved from Congo to Canada, but her mind wanders back home all the time.

"Growing up in Congo, part of what fuels my ambition, you may live well but you walk outside and you see such extreme poverty and a lot of times its women and children," she said.

In November she got a package that would open opportunities for those women.

"My dad sent me a sample, oh you know just try it, it's me loving you as a father, because he lives in Congo. He said oh just have it because I know you're into organic foods," Mawaka said.

That sample was honey, harvested by women in Kikwit, a rural part of Congo.

They put the honey in small Coca-Cola bottles, according to Mawaka, and sell them on the streets.

Mawaka realized this was her opportunity to create change and came to San Diego in February to start her business, calling it Lubembo. Honey.

In the last two weeks, her honey has been placed on shelves in San Diego stores, like Communal Coffee in North and South Park.

The sales provide secure weekly income for the Congolese farmers, which is life-changing.

"That's huge, for $300 you can buy property, $300 could put your kids in school," Mawaka said passionately.

Her love for her homeland is not stopping there. These women harvest honey with no protection and she wants to change that.

"To go to the forest to be exposed to that kind of environment, you're putting your life in danger, so one of the things we definitely want to do later this year is to donate that gear, absolutely," she said.

The name of her product came from family. Her father's middle name is Lubembo and her grandfather and brother share the same name.

When asked if there is a translation for this name, Mawaka said it is a traditionally strong name.

A name fitting for such a strong cause.

She hopes her product promotes conversation around purchasing power and how you can make an impact around the world with what you buy.

Mawaka's business is growing quickly. She is heading to Los Angeles this weekend to speak with three businesses that are interested in Lubembo. Honey.