Ginger, the home-made local drink which is popularly known as gemmere, is enjoyed by many Batswana.
It has traditionally been a beverage sipped at functions like weddings and those days elders who came before never thought of brewing it for commercial gains. Of recent the demand for the packaged drink has risen and this came with more Batswana entrepreneurs venturing into the business.
One of those is Ofile Segola, a 32-year-old woman who hails from Molepolole. Segola is the owner of Fifiona’s Cultural Taste (Pty) Ltd, a ginger making company.
The 100% citizen owned business is located in Tlokweng and produces locally brewed ginger drinks.
According to Segola, Fifiona was registered in 2017 but commenced operations in 2020. The recipe for her beverage was learnt from her mother; something she said pushes her to produce a quality product that preserves the cultural taste of the drink.
“The company aims at preserving the cultural drink for generations to come and we believe that history should never be lost that is why in the coming future it will not only brew ginger but diversify to other local drinks from indigenous fruits,” Segola said in an interview.
She added that although currently the business operates from a residential setting, there are future plans to have its own premises to produce in bulk.
Fifiona’s Cultural Taste has deliveries in Gaborone and surrounding areas to households, companies, and functions such as weddings, parties and funerals.
“The ginger is packed with freshly baked scones and Batswana are very receptive of the product because we have by far received positive feedback from clients,” Segola explained.
“….and companies are ready to buy for their workshops, seminars along with retailers who are willing to support and beverage restaurants are ready to purchase for their Tswana cuisine.”
She added they were currently working on the necessary requirements to trade in the country in order for the beverage to be in the retail shops in 2021.
Fifiona’s vision is to create jobs in the future for the youth with a passion to produce local beverages from indigenous fruits to feed Batswana.
Segola said local beverages should be able to be exported to other countries’ retail shops as a product of Botswana.
The brand has a extensive marketing strategy that is visible in their packaging which has sold itself to clients who refer to it as executive packaging as it has classical feel to it.
The taste of its ginger is cognizant of the olden day ginger that has always been a mainstay at traditional weddings in Botswana.
With a growing competition and demand for the beverage, Fifiona highlights its product with unique taste and advertising that sells the product.
Segola reiterated the effects of COVID-19 on the sales of the ginger drink which rely heavily on functions for more sales.
She said due to the pandemic sales have dwindled due to the no handling of food policy at events. She said their client base has been affected financially which has greatly affected their ability to make purchases.
Equally, the cost of production has increased due to the rise in prices of the ingredients for the beverage that has resulted in the increase in unit prices for the drink. Segola encouraged other beginner entrepreneurs to write down their business ideas, create an action plan and create a network of people who can help them start and even to successfully run their businesses.