Currently, Ing. Heredia is working on the launch of new products and a new line of snacks made from freeze-dried fruit that goes hand-in-hand with the bee-derived food products that she offers.
“The quality of our products has been directly related to the loyalty of our customers,” says Maria Regina Heredia, class of 2012, whose business in organic beekeeping offers a variety of organic, honey-based products sold in shops across Bolivia. Her business idea is the promotion of foods with health benefits that in turn, allow her to protect the environment through the conservation of bees and the use of eco-friendly packaging that will not pollute the planet.
It all started in 2014 while María Regina worked in private banking as a business executive in the production area. In parallel and as a hobby, on weekends she was engaged in beekeeping activities. While living with the bees, she became more interested in beekeeping until she made the decision to buy her own hives, which allowed her to start her own business. This is how, two years later, by 2018, she was completely dedicated to the honey business. Today she complements that honey business with the production of freeze-dried products and silvo pastoral livestock production systems.
Her vision of offering her country a quality product that is differentiated by the added value of organic production was a challenge. But the challenge did not stop her, and she applied the training that she received at her alma mater, “…to work for the objectives I want to achieve, and many times when one is an entrepreneur, one wonders in the face of adversities that arise, if one is taking the right path or not. The discipline and perseverance instilled in me by Zamorano has made it possible for me to be persevering and optimistic in the most vulnerable moments of my entrepreneurial career”, she emphasized.
With that perseverance and optimism, Maria Regina managed to start Verde Gourmet, a business from which promotes the brands “Abejita del Bosque” and “Bee Happy”. These offer products including honey from specific harvests, honey sauces, mustard and spicy honey, infused honeys and reusable packaging products made with insect wax. Her undertaking also serves as a platform to fight against the use of plastics that pollutes earth.
At present, bees play an essential role in the planet’s ecosystems since the production of food and the world’s biodiversity depends upon them.
This is how María Regina determined to establish her apiaries in areas free of chemicals and fertilizers, locating her hives in two sectors, one in a dry forest rich in timber species from the “Chiquitania Cruceña” and the other in the “Chaco Cruceño”, a dry forest with the influence of citric crops. Both areas are located in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia and allow for the control and verification of the non-use of harmful agrochemicals for the insects.
Under this protective role of the species and together with the specialized production of honey and its 100% organic derivatives, Verde Gourmet has become a prosperous beekeeping venture. Currently the business has 100 hives in production and 20 more under development. Organic products are distributed in 20 gourmet shops and 15 Bolivian supermarkets. With the purchase of the product, the customer has the certainty that in addition to purchasing an organic food, they are contributing to the reduction of polluting waste to the environment.
The products are packed in eco-friendly or reusable bottles, where the buyer is incentivized to refill the container through the offer of a discounted price.
Thanks to environmental protection initiatives and campaigns promoting the avoidance of the use of plastics, and by offering the public paper wrappers made with beeswax that substitutes the use of “film” in the kitchen, María Regina was selected to be part of a network of entrepreneurs of the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI). YLAI is a community of inspiring young entrepreneurs and drivers of change in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, who are committed to fostering economic growth, strengthening civil society, and creating change in their communities.