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Aron Zerihun

ANGOLA - Industry

Aron Zerihun

General Manager, YoniBen

Bio

Prior to being General Manager at YoniBen, Aron Zerihun worked in the academic profession and has a degree in psychology from the Eritrean Institute of Technology. He has over a decade of experience in sales, bank relations, project management, and more.

"YoniBen is a relatively new company that transitioned from import to local production."
YoniBen is working on investing more in the country to diversify into wheat milling and flour production on the back of its successful pasta production facilities.
Yoniben produces different types of pasta in Angola, with a production line capable of manufacturing up to 144 tons of pasta per day. What has been the evolution of the company since its establishment in Angola?

YoniBen is a relatively new company that transitioned from import to local production. YoniBen was established in 2017 with the objective of producing faster. The moment that we started to implement the project in 2019, we were ambitious, and we had the objective of finishing the construction in 10 months; however, the work was delayed due to COVID-19, and we only came into production in 2021. The evolution has been significantly good, because we were able to achieve peak production in just three months. We have a capacity of six tons per hour, which is 144 tons per day, as we are working 24/7, stopping only once in 18 days for maintenance. By producing locally, we have more control of how we produce the pasta, which has enabled us to increase our market share and achieve one of our missions as a company: to be pioneers in the pasta production industry in Angola and the region. The feedback and testimonies that we have received from the market and customers confirms this. We now look forward to diversifying the types of pasta, depending on the needs of the market.

YoniBen will invest in milling in 2023 and will be partially financed by the National Bank of Angola. The company is also importing the raw material from Turkey. Who are your principal national and international partners?

We are waiting to implement a corn milling project that should be finalized soon. The objective is to align with the Angolan executive policy and contribute to the diversification of the economy by substituting imports. Angola certainly has all the resources needed to be self-sufficient. We are aware that this will not be achieved in one or two years; however, we will continue to work hard. We are currently importing raw materials from Turkey due to the unavailability of our required quality standard to get the desired product. We are also working on a project to do our own wheat milling in order to have greater control over the production process and make it 100% local. We expect this project to be ready by 2023. Regarding to partnerships, we work closely with all government entities and the private sector, as we believe that we would not be able to reach those goals without these partnerships. I would like to take the opportunity to thank all the government bodies that have always helped us meet our objectives. Internationally, we partner with companies from all parts of the globe for our raw material and machinery needs.

How did you overcome the challenges arising from COVID-19?

We can say that no one from our team was out from the effects of COVID-19. The main challenge we faced was the movement of people, which compromised our plan to start the factory earlier. Again, the support we got from government authorities and our partners during this period was crucial. Furthermore, our entire team demonstrated great dedication during this period, working without ceasing and for many more extra hours. All this enabled us to overcome the challenges from COVID-19.

What are your plans for 2023?

In 2023, our main objective is starting up the corn mill factory and proceeding with the implementation of wheat flour milling for our raw material. In addition, we intend to intensify our contributions to the economic diversification program of the Angolan government.

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