In the Democratic Republic of Congo – home to the world’s largest United Nations peacekeeping mission and decades of bloody civil war – a brewery has not only survived, it has thrived to become a popular brand throughout central Africa. By being a success, the Brasimba brewery has brought prosperity and high-quality jobs to Congo’s second largest city, Lubumbashi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lubumbashi), and proven that a modern business can do well there despite the obstacles.
The Brasimba brewery has an ultra-modern factory (http://www.viddler.com/explore/kaysha/videos/298/) complete with high-tech laboratories to constantly test the quality of the beer. It employs 700 people – most of whom are Congolese – and produces 250,000 bottles of Simba beer every day, according to Monocle magazine. The company’s beer brands are Simba Biere du Lion and Tembo Biere and its slogan is a proud Notre Biere (Our Beer).
Lubumbashi is a city described by the BBC as without “child beggars, without potholes and where there are no festering mounds of rubbish.”
A study of the economic impact of breweries in Uganda and Honduras found that more than 100 local jobs, from farmers to truck drivers, depended on every person employed by a brewery (http://www.inclusivebusiness.org/2009/10/sabmiller-impact-assessment.html). Markets across the South are seen as growth areas for beer companies: China’s beer consumers now outnumber those in the U.S. By 2003, world sales of beer reached 148 billion hectolitres (Euromonitor). Overall, it is forecast that global beer consumption will rise by 3.5 percent by 2015, mostly in the South.
Apart from creating steady employment, breweries also help to improve the development of the advertising and marketing businesses of a community as they promote their various brands, and they support local activities like sport with team sponsorship. They also offer a local example of how to run a modern beverage business, with mechanized production, distribution systems and laboratories to ensure hygiene and quality standards are maintained.
Brasimba has been operating in Lubumbashi for eight decades, through the twists and turns of the country’s history. The city has prospered from its copper mines and wisely used that wealth to improve the city’s general prosperity.
The brewery has successfully become a regional favourite, producing beer that is drunk not only in the surrounding Katanga province, but also in Zimbabwe and Zambia. It’s an impressive accomplishment for a company operating in such a turbulent environment. Distribution of the beer by truck is not easy, with the trip taking between six days and two weeks depending on the weather and the condition of the roads.
And the beer is not cheap, at around US $1.48 for a big bottle — a sure sign there is money to be made.
The healthy economic environment has also spawned a beer war with rivals Bralima, owned by the multinational Heineken. With five breweries in Congo and its head office in the capital Kinshasa, Heineken claims the lessons it has learned in Congo are helping it to change its marketing and business strategies far away in the United States.
It recently transferred its commercial director of Congo operations to head up operations in the United States. Heineken Chief Executive Officer Jean-Francois van Boxmeer told the Bloomberg news agency that working in Africa was “certainly worth three times Harvard Business School.”
Heineken’s market share doubled in the Democratic Republic of Congo in just four years and Africa has become a significant market for the brewer.
Published: December 2009
- Small businesses looking to develop their brand can find plenty of free advice and resources here: Website: http://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com
- A Brandchannel: The world’s only online exchange about branding, packed with resources, debates and contacts to help businesses intelligently build their brand. Website: http://www.brandchannel.com
- Just Food is a web portal packed with the latest news on the global food industry and packed with events and special briefings to fill entrepreneurs in on the difficult issues and constantly shifting market demands. Website: http://www.just-food.com
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.
ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.
© David South Consulting 2022