Money Moves August 05, 2016 at 06:46 am

Pepsi To Invest $30 Million in Zimbabwe

Mark Babatunde August 05, 2016 at 06:46 am

August 05, 2016 at 06:46 am | Money Moves

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Varun Beverages, a licensed manufacturer and distributor of Pepsi Cola, plans to invest $30 million in the Zimbabwean economy.

Speaking to the Financial Gazette of Zimbabwe, Ravi Jaipuria, the chief executive and owner of Varun Beverages, said the company plans to build a bottling plant in Zimbabwe to produce the Pepsi brand of soda drinks.

At full production, the company is expected to create 300 to 400 direct jobs in addition to another 1,500 indirect jobs.

Construction for the plant was expected to begin in 2015 and the company was scheduled to begin beverage production in August 2016, but the project has suffered delays due to bureaucratic bottlenecks caused by the clumsy process of business registrations and incorporation in Zimbabwe.

Consequently, Jaipuria personally flew in to Zimbabwe to receive the final certificate of compliance for the project. The certificate came eight months after the Pepsi project was announced in November 2015, underscoring part of the difficulty of doing business in the southern African country.

Zimbabwe is in dire need of foreign direct investment to create much-needed jobs and boost an economy that has experienced one of the worst inflation rates in the world.

The Zimbabwean economy is widely regarded by many investment analysts as unstable and volatile, but Jaipuria says that he has weighed the pros and cons and is confident in going forward with the project.

“I cannot be deaf to what is happening in the world (including in Zimbabwe), Zimbabwe will be a very small investment. It is not something that will kill the company if something goes wrong. There will be a risk factor, but I am prepared to take the risk looking at the positives against the negatives.

“Zimbabwean people are hardworking and very intellectual. I think I must hire more Zimbabweans to work in other countries which are English speaking,” said Jaipuria.

Jaipuria is one of India’s wealthiest men, and his company operates bottling plants in several Asian and African countries, including India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Morocco, and Zambia.

Construction for the project will commence within the next two weeks. “We will be in production by early February,” Jaipuria said. “It will be the fastest plant (that we have built).We have not done this anywhere in the world but we will do it here.”

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