Entrepreneur Bashi Kester Phaladze has learned that nothing pays better than ‘peanuts’. This is what gave birth to Kester Investment's Catch Up Peanut Butter, which for him turned out to be an overnight success story.
“He used to give us examples of countries whose economies thrive on the manufacturing sector. Upon completion, I did my research and found a gap in the production of peanut butter,” he said.
Started in September last year, Catch Up Peanut Butter has penetrated the local market as the product can be found in retail stores, schools, institutions, tuck shops and organizations. The company can produce over 42 tonnes a month and over 500 tonnes a year.
“The company is participating in an exciting, growing market. Catch Up Peanut Butter is a basic need in many households and its demand has been growing. The market response has exceeded our expectations towards our product,” he said.
Narrating his journey, Phaladze said his first client was his former classmate and Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation lead researcher, Professor Nnyaladzi Batisani who bought four 5kgs and shared with his colleagues while Square Mart was the first retail outlet to take up their product followed by Choppies. To date, the company has contracts with about four councils as he supplies them with Catch Up Peanut Butter. To beat the competition, he said they aim to continue producing quality, delicious, and nutritious peanut butter.
However, he said their biggest challenge is the lack of sufficient groundnuts locally and the delay in payments from councils, which usually affect their production.
Touching on their prospects Phaladze said they want to expand their operations, a move aimed at meeting the local demand and even export to other countries.
“We do want to contribute to the economy by way of the import bill substitution thus creating employment in the process. There is also an opportunity to grow groundnuts locally because the demand is growing,” he said.
The Local Entrepreneur Authority has been instrumental as they incubated them at the Pilane Multi-sector Incubator. He said even though he initially funded his business, Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency also financed them.