Making an Impact is as Sweet as Honey

by Laura Powers

Making an Impact is as Sweet as Honey

A year after graduating from Mason with a degree in global affairs, John Hancq ’16 packed his belongings and boarded a flight for a month-long trip through Asia, Europe, and Africa. Having just left his job as a police officer, the timing was perfect for Hancq to travel and consider his next career move. What started as a trip around the world ended with the formation of his own social enterprise—Hancq International. 

Based outside of Washington, D.C., Hancq International seeks to support businesses in developing countries that lack the infrastructure to scale production of their goods. Currently, the company’s primary initiative is The Karibu Honey Project that provides logistical support to Tanzanian beekeepers. Hancq said that the polyfloral honey produced in Tanzania is some of the best he’s tasted and was surprised to find it did not take up a notable share of the honey market. Upon further research, he found that the villages in Tanzania had limited access to commercial hives and transportation, making it impossible to distribute honey far beyond a village’s borders. The Karibu Honey Project provides transportation and commercial hives that are controlled and run by the Tanzanian residents. It also provides education on the processes for treating and preparing the honey to sell to an international market.  

While Hancq handles sales in the U.S., he is partnered with two local businessmen that handle the operations in Tanzania. Members of two of the local tribes, Hancq said they were eager to be part of a project that helps their community. He added that commercial beekeeping has the potential to bring people in the area out of poverty and provide an extra, essential source of income.

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“The ability to help people and really affect change and still have a viable business is my favorite thing about all this,” Hancq said. “I hope it inspires people to get involved in this style of business because it really can do so much good.”

Hancq said he’s always had an interest in business and the ability to forge his own career. His main inspiration came from Dr. Susan Howard’s global health class that he said developed his passion for creating effective solutions to world problems. Hancq credits the launch of his business, in part, to Dr. Howard and the skills learned in her class. He continues to keep in touch with her, gaining valuable connections through her own network of individuals and discussing possible ways to expand the business. Hancq said that her mentorship is priceless.

“She has been an extremely valuable subject matter expert, and has allowed me to continue growing as a person and business owner,” he said. 

In the fall, Hancq will begin to pursue his MBA at the University of Warwick while continuing his work with Hancq International.

“We’re working really hard to create a model that’s scalable, easily replicated, and requires little training,” he said. “My vision is to spread this in the local area of Tanzania initially and later push it as far as we can through Africa. I’d like to push this to other industries as well. The honey industry, to me, is just that start.”