One of the many challenges confronting the youth in Africa is graduate unemployment. After college, many remain unemployed or underemployed due to lack of jobs or not meeting the requirement of an advertised job.
Henok Abera, a graduate from Hawassa University, Ethiopia, dared to be different. After university, he could not find a job in his field of study and decided to be an entrepreneur.
Abera started marketing products for various companies at exhibitions and expos. And in one of his travels across Ethiopia, he searched for business ideas and saw a gap in the market for peanut butter. To materialize his business idea, he rented space and with just a grinding machine, he started processing 30kg peanuts per day and has since scaled it up to 600kg per day.
Today, his peanut butter brand, WoW Peanut Butter, sells in small shops, mini-markets, supermarkets, and cafés in Addis Ababa. “We have increased our workforce and added new machinery,” he told howemadeitinafrica.
Abera now plans to start producing peanut snacks, peanut oil and peanut powder, in addition to producing peanut. His company sources from farmers and farmers’ unions in Ethiopia. “The peanuts are unique to the area thanks to the weather and the quality of the soil,” he said.
In a competitive market which includes honey producers, jam producers and local peanut butter and imported ones, WoW Peanut Butter is doing well in the market. Abera’s product stands out mainly because they do not contain any additives whereas many other companies add sugar, salt or acetic acid to their products.
Instead of depending on traditional marketing strategies like relying on marketers, Abera has focused on digital marketing. “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 said.
The road has not been smooth sailing for Abera. One of his challenges is sourcing for modern machinery. “Our current machine is a local model and outdated,” he says. “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.”
Another challenge highlighted by Abera includes hiring the right people. “We hired unskilled labor and lost a lot. We countered this by building a team with complementary skills and perspective,” he concluded.