Eden All Natural took top honours and a ZAR100 000 cash prize in the agriculture and agri-processing category at the annual Eskom Business Investment Competition (BIC), held last month in Johannesburg.
The Cape Town-based firm, which is owned and led by Debbie Matake, manufactures natural peanut butter with 100% peanuts and no additives, preservatives or sugar.
The peanut butter is produced using Grade A peanuts which are slowly roasted in a conventional oven simply to retain important nutrients.
After scouting the market and failing to find the natural peanut butter they wanted – with no additives, preservatives or sugar, Matake and her husband Brighton, decided to create their own in 2013.
Their peanut butter is produced at their plant in Kensington and available in a number of flavours, including cinnamon and raisin, crunchy, smooth, choc chip and seeded/nutty and honey.
The BIC, which was launched in 2008 by the Eskom Development Foundation, is aimed at recognising, rewarding and inspiring small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are significantly contributing to the fight against unemployment and poverty.
These are businesses that are leading the country’s economic development by creating job opportunities in their local communities.
Eskom Development Foundation’s acting CEO, Cecil Ramonotsi says the competition is open to local, black-owned and registered enterprises that have been operating for more than 24 months in the manufacturing, engineering and construction, trade and services as well as agriculture and agri-processing sectors. “The BIC has been helping small enterprises move to the next level with not only the financial rewards, but also business skills, training and networking opportunities provided as part of their prizes.”
The Matakes started marketing and selling their product amongst friends and family. Following that, the demand for their product skyrocketed, which led them to look for more opportunities at trade fairs and malls. As fate would have it, one day while displaying the product at a mall in Cape Town, two gentlemen approached them and tasted the peanut butter. The men loved it and turned out to be regional buyers for Pick n Pay retailer.
“In April 2016, we started supplying our product to Pick n Pay, and we also supply to Spar and Wellness Warehouse. At the start, we experienced similar struggles that many small businesses do, including lack of resources. But as soon as we found a production plant, we approached the municipality for compliance and got a license. We’ve never looked back and have been seeing great results. We are looking at securing other big retailers and expanding into other places like Johannesburg, which our prize money will go towards,” says Matake.