The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted organisations across Africa to invest in distilling facilities for the first time, and prompted existing distillers and brewers to innovate and diversify. This is according to Hendre’ Barnard Training and Marketing Manager at Distillique – one of the partners of food & drink technology Africa trade exhibition.
Barnard says that in South Africa, the majority of craft distillers survived the lockdown and restrictions on alcohol sales; with many of them using the time to innovate and diversify their product lines. “A lot of the companies are now lining up export projects; and others have diversified into new lines such as non-alcoholic beverages,” he says.
The lockdown has had a significant impact on the local market, with a massive increase in home brewing and distilling. “This put strain on the supply chain for raw materials such as yeast: because of demand from home distillers, we were selling 200kg of yeast in one hour at one stage. Where we normally buy 50 – 60kg every two months, we were ordering a ton at a time.” “Because of bottlenecks in imports, there are still some challenges in the brewing and distilling supply chain”, he says.
Barnard adds that the coming festive season will likely be disappointing in terms of sales. “Right now, craft brewers and distillers are focused on recovering, and some are trying to increase sales direct to the consumer rather than through an intermediary. They should also cut costs wherever possible and not over-produce for the festive season. We don’t know what level of lockdown we will be at this December, and because of the economic impact of the lockdown, there is a chance that sales will be lower than they were last year,” he says.
Pan Africa steps up production
“Elsewhere in Africa, many countries realised they were too dependent on alcohol imports when the pandemic struck, and we now see a surge in interest in distillery equipment across a number of countries.”
Barnard notes that distilling equipment is needed not just for consumable alcohol, but also for industrial alcohol and essential oil distillation. With a surge in demand for alcohol-based sanitisers and a global market for certain essential oils for use in cosmetics, there are growing opportunities for African entrepreneurs to open distilleries to meet demand.
“At food & drink technology Africa, we have an excellent opportunity to engage with delegates from across the continent, showcasing our equipment which has been built and adapted specifically for the unique African environment, where heat, humidity and erratic power are all concerns,” says Barnard.
Fresh interest in brewing, distilling
Barnard reports that home brewing that took place during the ban on alcohol has driven new interest in the art of brewing and distilling, which could be good news for craft brewers and distillers.
Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, Brewmaster and founder of Brewsters Craft, which offers contract brewing, consulting, an academy and a laboratory, expects new craft breweries and a great deal of innovation to come out of the lockdown. “We are seeing a lot of interest from people wanting training so they can start their own craft breweries. There is also a lot more product and branding innovation taking place. People are now looking to bring to market new flavours, exciting new products, and even more non-alcoholic craft beverages like ginger beer. The lockdown may have given people time to research brewing, or perhaps they were driven to seek new revenue streams, but coming out of lockdown we see a lot of new activity in this space.”
Nxusani-Mawela is optimistic about the prospects for a good summer holiday season for craft brewers: “I think people are just tired of being stuck at home and they want to go out and explore new things,” she says.
Nxusani-Mawela, who has participated in food & drink technology Africa since 2016 and a partner since 2018, says the trade show gives would-be brewers access to the latest technology and equipment, and allows Africa to showcase its capabilities to international leaders. “Having all the suppliers and buyers from around the world and across Africa in one place makes it important to be there,” she says.
Dain Richardson, Senior Exhibition Manager of food & drink technology Africa, says the pandemic has presented both challenges and opportunities for the food and drink sector across Africa: “We’re hearing encouraging reports of organisations that are starting to pivot and seek new opportunities despite the lockdown and slowed economy,” she says.
“Partnering with leading industry bodies and stakeholders such as Plastics SA, SAAFFI, Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) Africa Sector, Craft Brewers Association South Africa (CBASA), BICSA, Brewsters Craft and Distillique gives us as the event organisers deep insight into the evolving environment, and allows us to shape our event to address the changing needs of the sector,” she says.
To help industry stakeholders across the continent to adapt and seize new opportunities, food & drink technology Africa 2021 will focus on emerging technologies and solutions to help modernise operations and improve efficiencies.
Bloom joins Visa’s Fintech Fast Tack Programme
Bloom, the Y Combinator-backed digital banking app has become the first Sudanese company to join Visa’s selective Fintech Fast Tack Programme. Following its graduation as the first Sudanese company in the Silicon Valley accelerator’s history; Bloom has recently launched its waitlist, which saw more than 100,000 users sign up for access to the app. During just two months of operations, Bloom has onboarded more than 20,000 members – which is a significant milestone.
Sudan is one of the ten most populous countries in Africa with tremendous economic potential; and the Sudanese government has recently put the modernisation of the financial system at the heart of its agenda since most of its people are underbanked – 60% of the population are under the age of 24 – a youthful demographic that is increasingly tech-savvy. Digitisation can bridge the gap in bringing banking services to consumers as payment apps and mobile wallets have far greater reach than traditional banks. Hence, Bloom is uniquely positioned to unlock this opportunity in Sudan and the wider East Africa region.
Michael Seibel, Managing Partner at Y Combinator commented: “We are excited by our investment in Bloom, and we value the diverse, yet complementary skillsets of its experienced founding team. Their passion and understanding of the financial challenges faced by consumers in Sudan and the wider East Africa region positions them uniquely for success.”
Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Programme allows companies like Bloom to receive incentives – reduced costs, faster onboarding, marketing support, in addition to dedicated hands-on support to launch Visa’s swathe of products. Admission to Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Programme, the investment in Bloom by Visa, will see the fintech issue millions of Visa cards over the period, democratising access to international cards in Sudan.
Visa Country General Manager for Sudan and Libya, Ahmed Mohey said, “We are thrilled to have Bloom at Visa’s Fintech Fast Tack Programme. The suite of Visa’s products and services will provide customers with a secure, fast, and easy-to-use way to make online payments backed by the latest in security technology. Visa is taking the lead as a first mover in digital payments in Sudan. We are committed to being a part of Sudan’s economic transformation by bringing our global expertise and capabilities to its government and private-sector partners. Together with Bloom, we will continue to drive acceptance of digital payments while finding opportunities to launch new products and services to Sudanese customers and merchants.”
Merghani Mahgoub, Managing Director of Bloom states, “Being admitted to Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Programme is a compelling statement of intent from Visa and Bloom to drive adoption of Visa cards in Sudan, and the wider East Africa region. We have been deeply impressed by the Visa team and are excited to work with Visa in bringing our members state-of-the-art financial services, in a digital-first way.”
Future Females Launches Brand New Platform
Future Females is excited to announce the launch of their brand new platform! The Future Females platform is the first community-based learning experience for women who want to invest in themselves and their future dream business. It is a learning platform for females who know their businesses will only grow as fast as they do.
“Think of community-driven courses, events, discussions, and incubation to help female entrepreneurs build their future business and life, all in one place.” Future Females co-founder Lauren Dallas explains.
“We wanted to build the exact product that my co-founder Cerina and I wished we had when we started Future Females almost five years ago.”
The women-focused company has come a long way since inception in 2017. They now host events in over 40 cities worldwide, have 100 000 community members and have seen over 5000 women graduate from their online Business School.
So far more than 4000 women and men have signed up to the waitlist and are hoping to be amongst the first to test the new platform. Co-founder Lauren Dallas also explained that the most engaged women on the waitlist will become founding members of the new venture. Founding members will contribute fundamentally to the development and design of this new way of online learning.
The five key benefits of e-learning built for women
Because the platform is all about community, there are five key customer benefits:
- No More Overwhelm! This new platform offers one course per business strategy (instead of hundreds of options which only makes things more confusing). No more second-guessing what the right next move is, or how to do it.
- Speed of results We know that time is a scarce asset for any business owner. This platform will allow entrepreneurs to structure their business strategy, helping them get the results they need in their business – far quicker than going it alone.
- The Tribe We pride ourselves in being an interactive community who truly understands the journey – all the ups and downs, the fears and, of course, the wins.
- Clarity: Clarity of direction in any business is essential. This platform will give entrepreneurs the exact courses and content they need to create a clear, effective path for business growth.
- The “I CAN DO IT” energy! Future Females is built fundamentally around this concept. Anyone CAN absolutely do it with the right support, resources, and guidance. The world is your oyster, and your dream business is ready and waiting for you to make it a reality.
The key product features of the platform are courses, events, challenges, groups and the ‘Future Females Fund’. Members can contribute and be eligible to receive money, mentorship and incubation through the Future Females Fund.
Learning from the best
The e-learning platform for female entrepreneurs will launch in early September this year. It will feature courses from renowned and achieved entrepreneurs, business owners and influencers. Some South African creators offering courses on the new platform include influencer Babalwa Mcaciso, creative Mike Sharman and tech-entrepreneur Arlene Mulder.
Malawi receives US$14.2M drought recovery insurance payout
In a ceremony presided over by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Malawi, Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the African Risk Capacity Group, in the presence of Representatives of Partners organisations (Ambassador of Germany to Malawi), and of the UN system (WFP and UNDP country directors), delivered a symbolic US$14.2 million insurance payout cheque to the Malawi Government.
“I assured Malawians that we have enough food for everyone and even those few whose crops had not done well would be provided for. My confidence came from the fact that we had taken this insurance policy to support Malawians in time of need. And I want to thank the ARC Group for honouring the agreed payout,” said His Excellency, Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi.
The Government of Malawi had a drought insurance policy, supported by the African Development Bank through its Africa Disaster Risk Financing (ADRiFi) Programme Multi-Donor Trust Fund. Many regions of Malawi, particularly the Central and Southern regions, are experiencing severe food insecurity caused by drought-related events like erratic rainfall and crop failure.
The Governments of the United Kingdom, through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and Switzerland, through the Swiss Agency for Development and Corporation contributed to the ADRiFi trust fund. The Government of Germany, through KFW Development Bank/Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, as well as the International Fund for Agricultural Development subsidized Malawi’s insurance policy premiums.
During the 2020/21 season, the country experienced an unprecedented dry start to the production season, leading to higher rates of sowing failure in significant parts of the Southern and the Central Regions as modelled by Africa RiskView, the African Risk Capacity Group’s (ARC) risk modelling and early warning tool. This, combined with mid-season erratic rainfall conditions in most parts of the country resulted in a modelled number of people affected estimated at about 6.4 million, the second-highest number of affected people, since 2001.
“ARC’s drought insurance mechanism is an innovative pan-African tool that provides our member states with the funds needed to better plan, prepare and respond to climate-related disasters,” said ARC Group Board Chairperson, Dr. Anthony Mothae Maruping. “The payout to the Government of Malawi will not only release pressure on public finances but it will also bring nutritional and financial support to those that have been affected by the droughts caused by an increasingly variable and changing climate,” he added.
“Malawi is a signatory of the ARC Treaty and a key partner in the region. We have no doubt that the funds disbursed will support the country in scaling up its response to the drought-induced challenges,” said United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and ARC Group Director General, Ibrahima Cheikh Diong.
“ARC’s drought insurance product ensures the swift release of funds when they are needed most, allowing them to be channelled effectively to respond to a crisis. The most vulnerable in the country, who are facing severe hunger, will now have access to food relief,” declared Lesley Ndlovu, CEO of ARC Limited, the insurance affiliate of the ARC Group.