Targeting low income earners
Promasidor hopes to capture the bottom of the pyramid market where most people “can’t afford protein”. The smallest pack of Sossi, a 45g sachet which is sufficient for two people, retails at KSh.18 ($0.20).
“There are people in the chattering classes who will basically have all sorts of ideas about the good things or the bad things about soya, but people who could really benefit from the protein don’t have the luxury of being able to chat about these on their blogs or anything else,” says Clarke.
“We really want to get to the bottom end [of the market]. It will appeal to people who go to supermarkets as well, but the core of our market should be people in the bottom of the pyramid because these are people who can’t afford protein anyway.”
Clarke says that while it may take a while the company sees a return, “Promasidor has never been frightened of investing”.
The company, he says, is hoping to roll out other soya-related products in the future.
“We have a whole range of ideas of what we can do with soya because not only can we do soya chunks, we can get into soya milk, we can do soya drinks… we can get into all sorts of soya-based products. I think that is an opportunity.”
“If you are expecting a quick return in a short period of time you are probably going to be disappointed. You aren’t going to produce an instant success within one or two years, especially if you have investment in manufacturing. Invest in local management people and don’t bring lots of expatriates. If you build your business upon unethical means in the long-term it won’t succeed.”
An optimistic Africa
Clarke, who has worked in Africa for more than 20 year, says Africa’s business environment is changing for the better with more investment from the US and Europe going into wealth-generating activities rather than aid.
“Secondly, you have got this young, talented generation who are gifted people. And even though perhaps not everybody is being educated to an acceptable standard, a reasonable percentage is and therefore you have a skill base here which is available at a relatively competitive cost.”
In his career working for multinationals in Africa, Clarke says the thing he admires most about Africa is the optimism.
“People get up every morning, clearly determined and committed to the fact that they will succeed and I think that is incredible. Unless you see it, then you don’t appreciate. People here are genuinely optimistic,” says Clarke. “The thing that most impresses me are the kids here and how desperate they are to get to school, whereas in the UK kids are desperate to stay away from school. I think that is incredibly uplifting.”