The banana wine is much appreciated and consumed in Burundi, and it is invariably present during wedding ceremonies, baptism and mourning. The popular drink is mostly homemade and drunk from a jag. Imena factory supported by the MAVC project started a new way to propose and promote the beverage.
The traditional wine has changed beyond recognition: in the Imena factory in Kayanza (Northern Burundi) the wine is produced industrially on a large scale, with added honey for the flavour, it is being certified for quality, alcohol percentage (13%), hygiene guaranteed, packed in bottles with attractive names and labels, the wine can now be found in bars and supermarkets in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi.
Although this bottled wine is a bit more expensive, its consumption has skyrocketed, for two simple reasons: improvements in the marketing and in the distribution of Imena.
The Imena factory has been there since 2012, high on the Nyagisozi hill, where it overlooks the urban centre of Kayanza. At that time, the factory lacked a good marketing strategy, the distribution to their wholesalers was irregular, as they did not have sufficient vehicles. This led to problems with the wholesalers, who could not fulfil their supply agreements with bars and shops.
New opportunities for Imena factory
With the ICCO’s MAVC program, that started in 2015, these problems were tackled. The distribution problems were solved by renting two extra vehicles. The new promotion strategy that came out of the joint discussions consisted of the installation of billboards and advertising posters, radio commercials, promotional events (fairs and cocktail parties), and leaflets, brochures and calendars that were distributed to customers. The program helped design an attractive label model, and supported the factory in the acquisition of a new packaging.
After these improvements, the bottled banana wine from the Imena factory conquered the country. In December 2016, just before the start of the marketing campaign, 10,000 bottles of Hozagara (‘Feel at ease’) wine were sold, whereas one year later, in December 2017, this had gone up to 27.000 bottles: more than 2,5 times as much!
Many new jobs were also created for people living in the neighbourhood: from 85 to 219 full-time employees. The physically heavier work is done by 74 men, while 145 women are brewing, bottling and labelling. Depending on the amount of work, day laborers are also employed. From 8 hours a day, the factory is now producing round-the-clock.
Now that Imena factory has conquered the national market, the factory thinks of expanding to the regional market and sell their banana wine in Rwanda, DRC, Uganda and Tanzania.
Microfinance, Agri-finance and Value Chains (MAVC) project
MAVC is a four year project implemented and co-financed by ICCO and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The MAVC project aims to increase the income and food security of 150,000 households through better access to rural microfinance and an integrated approach to development and value chain financing.
A blog by the MAVC project team