TBI Blogs: How Honey Bees Became a Source of Empowerment for Women in Rural India

Janki Devi Bajaj Foundation The IMC Ladies' Wing - Jankidevi Bajaj Puraskar promotes, supports and honours the substantial work being done by woman entrepreneurs in rural India.

Josephine Selvaraj is ensuring empowerment of women in rural India using bee-farming and bee-keeping. 

Josephine Selvaraj is the founder of the Vibis Natural Bee Farm based in the Vadipatti Taluk of Madurai. Her vision is to spread the goodness of the sweet nectar of life to one and all, and to empower women in rural India through employment.

When she was 33, Josephine and her husband struggled to make ends meet on the latter’s meagre income. Determined to turn things around for her family, Josephine began learning bee-farming at Krishi Vigyan Kendra. The extra income helped her support her family and ensured a quality education for her children. The learning also inspired her to start her own apiary unit in 2006, in her native of Muthupatti Village.

The Vibis Natural Bee Farm started with 10 hives, earning Josephine an income of Rs. 8,000. In 2007, the National Honey Mission ordered 62 boxes of honey from the Farm. It was Jospehine’s first major order and proved to be a shot in the arm for her entrepreneurial endeavours.

Establishment of the Vibis Natural Bee Farm also marked the beginning of Josephine’s journey in the field of rural development. She has since used employment to ensure economic empowerment and financial independence of women in rural India.

Not only has Josephine employed more than 50 tribal women from the hilly villages of Oddanchathram, Malaiyur, Ellapara and Sirumalain; she has also helped more than 300 women set up their own honey bee farms.

Josephine Selvaraj

Josephine Selvaraj, founder of Vibis Natural Bee Farm

More than 20,000 individuals have also benefitted from the free honeybee farming training initiated by Josephine under the National Honey Mission.

Her progressive efforts in honey bee farming have changed the lives of locals by improving their standard of living and by ensuring that their children have access to quality education.

Her objective is to make the sweet nectar available to each and every family for their daily consumption. She believes that honey helps boost immunity and purifies blood. Its medicinal value protects the body from major health problems like heart ailments and cancer.

Josephine is vigorously promoting bee-keeping and bee farming in various colleges, thus encouraging entrepreneurship among students. She also offers free honey to underprivileged patients battling cancer at the Aravind Hospital, in a bid to boost their immune system.

Her entrepreneurial and philanthropic endeavors made her a worthy recipient of the 20th Jankidevi Bajaj Puraskar 2012.

Smt. Josephine Selvaraj receiving 20th IMC-Ladies Wing Jankidevi Bajaj Puraskar - 2012 from Shri Gerson da Cunha, noted Advtg. & Theatre Personality & Social Activist. Smt. Amita Haribhakti, Chairman-Awards Sub Committee, Smt. Darshana Doshi, President – LW, Smt. Nandita Das, Award Winning Film Actor & Social Activist and Dr. Justice C.S. Dharmadhikari, Chairman Awards Committee looks on.

Smt. Josephine Selvaraj receiving the 20th IMC-Ladies Wing Jankidevi Bajaj Puraskar – 2012 from Shri Gerson da Cunha, noted Advertising & Theatre Personality and Social Activist. Smt. Amita Haribhakti, Chairman-Awards Sub Committee, Smt. Darshana Doshi, President – LW, Smt. Nandita Das, Award Winning Film Actor & Social Activist and Dr. Justice C.S. Dharmadhikari, Chairman Awards Committee look on.

Josephine is referred to as a ‘Florence Nightingale’ to the sick, the poor and the needy, for her work in sting therapy. Not only does she conduct sting therapy sessions for patients at her farm, but she also conducts workshops to create awareness of the field and encourage entrepreneurship in it.

Her dedication towards the development of the rural economy and society has been commendable and her professionalism has been applauded by the people of the Vadipatti Taluk of Madurai.

Josephine Selvaraj is known as an angel, who enriches lives with a touch of honey.


IMC Ladies’ Wing Jankidevi Bajaj Puraskar was instituted with an objective to seek a close alliance with rural India to promote, support and honour the substantial work being done by women in the field of rural entrepreneurship. If you know a fierce Indian woman who fits this criteria, nominate her by clicking below.

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