TechInAfrica – When Henok Abera was researching the market during his travel across Ethiopia, he discovered the potential of a peanut butter business, that gives birth to WoW Peanut Butter, an organic-based product based in Addis Ababa.
Starting with just one employee, a petite grinding machine, and rented space, Abera went from selling 30 kg of peanuts per day to 600 kg now. The products are then distributed to small shops, mini-marts, supermarkets, wholesalers, and cafes in the city.
“We are currently producing only peanut butter; however, we do have plans to start peanut snacks, peanut oil, and peanut powder,” Abera says.
Abera notes the non-additive product is what sets apart his business from other competitors.
“The market is very competitive. Besides peanut butter producers, there are stakeholders like honey and jam producers as well as importers of these items. Our peanut butter competitors include Yami, Harga, Harer, and Tesfaye, as well as imported products from India and the USA. Our peanut butter doesn’t contain any additives whereas many other companies add sugar, salt, or acetic acid to their products.”
Graduated from Hawassa University and initially struggled to find jobs that suit his field of study, Abera has now developed his business to provide more opportunities for the workforce and new machinery to speed up the manufacturing process.
“Our most successful channel has been working with the distributors. We work with two distributors: one is based at the Merkato market in Addis Ababa and distributes to various outlets in the city; the second distributor takes the product to regional parts of Ethiopia. They assist us in making our product visible in many places we cannot reach,” Abera explains.
But challenges persist. “One of our main challenges is sourcing modern machinery. Our current machine is a local model and outdated. Another hurdle is access to working capital. We face financial constraints as we buy the raw materials in cash but many of our customers buy our finished product on credit.”
Despite the setbacks, Abera focuses on maintaining the product quality by sourcing its raw peanuts from farmers who live 500km north of the city, which made the peanuts unique due to the soil and weather advantage. He also finds the distributor approach and digital marketing to be best suited for his product.
“Distributors aid visibility in the market because they have a wide network to reach the local and village routes.”
“Our marketing team advertises our product on digital channels so that we and our distributors can reach higher sales and new customers.”
He jots down on the insights of his past, where unskilled laborers used to hinder the flow of production.
“One of the mistakes I made is not working with the right people. We hired unskilled labor and lost a lot. We countered this by building a team with complementary skills and perspective.”