By: Tebogo Mokwena
Described by many as South Africa’s tastiest instant ginger powder mix, the business model for ginger beer company, Ginja Gemere, is aimed at helping people start their own businesses by purchasing the powder and reselling it. For the past six years, Kgosietsile Mogale’s mixture of traditional ginger beer has become so popular that he has expanded from Gauteng to other African countries, including Botswana.
Mogale started his business while he was employed in the media. However, because of his business model and relying on word of mouth, he now has 20 employees and 1500 resellers. Ginja Gemere was started informally in 2015. Before that, Mogale was making ginger beer, which is a popular drink in South Africa. He decided to manufacture his ginger formula in powder form, package it and attract resellers to distribute his product.
Mogale told Vutivi News that during the early days of his business, he travelled from house to house to sell his product in the Midvaal areas of Ironside and De Deur. Once the demand grew, he left his full-time job to focus on his business. He employed the services of resellers with the purpose of giving regular people an opportunity to make an extra income and for the product to reach a wider market in a short space of time. “From the start, we did not approach shops with the intention of placing our products on their shelves,” Mogale told Vutivi News.
“Instead, we approached like-minded people to resell because I learned that word of mouth works better in my experience. “We were also trying to empower people to generate their own income,” Mogale said that although he did not work directly with wholesalers and retailers, some resellers supplied these stores. He also said that the company allowed resellers the freedom of creativity, which meant they could repackage, rebrand, and sell it as their own product. Some even sold the product in its liquid form by turning the powder into ginger beer and then packaging and selling it in bottles.
Mogale believes that the product sells itself because it sticks to the taste of gemere, a name often used amongst locals to describe ginger beer, and is consumed at events like weddings and funerals. “During the early days of the pandemic when we opened our doors to reselling, people bought the product in high numbers because gemere was still the preferred drink at funerals,” he said. “When there was a ban on alcohol, people would buy the powder and mix it with yeast which turned it into an alcoholic drink. “We still have a problem of people thinking that gemere is an alcoholic beverage, even though it is not.”
Mogale believes he has only started tapping into the full potential of his product. The majority of his resellers are based in Gauteng, the North West, Limpopo, and Botswana. However, there is a growing presence of his product in the Free State and Namibia and an increasing demand in Mpumalanga. “My dream is to have the product on the shelves of every cash-and-carry and retailer in the country, and this will ultimately result in creating more employment,” he told Vutivi News.