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SAM Jose Vieira

MOZAMBIQUE - Industry

José Manuel da Costa Vieira Lino

CEO, Sociedade de Águas de Moçambique (SAM)

Bio

José Manuel da Costa Vieira Lino was born in Calda da Rainha, Portugal, and went on to study oenology in Paris. He began his oenological career in Portugal, before moving to Mozambique in 1994 and deciding to invest. He has been involved with the creation of various national brands. He then moved on to the natural mineral water segment, and is now the CEO of the largest company in the industry, SAM – Sociedade de Águas de Moçambique – owner of the reference brand in the country, Água da Namaacha.

"We have explored partnerships with foreign entities, specifically in Dubai, and are moving forward."
TBY talks to José Manuel da Costa Vieira Lino, CEO of Sociedade de Águas de Moçambique (SAM), about the firm’s main product lines, partnerships and collaboration, and goals for the coming year.
Could you provide an overview of SAM and its main products?

I founded SAM in 1998. We went through several trial phases, and in 2007 we relaunched the company on a larger scale. Our main goal at SAM is to sell water in all its forms, including water in various packaging options. In the beginning, we had several partners. Since our relaunch, more private partners and institutions have come on board, leading to significant growth. In 2007, we constructed new facilities and started developing various products. We have set up specialized laboratories in each of our factories to monitor water quality every 20 to 30 minutes. This constant vigilance ensures that we are always aware of the product’s quality and can guarantee its excellence. Today we are proud to be the only company in our sector certified with ISO 22000 for food safety, consistently adhering to international standards.

Could you tell us about any partnerships or collaborations that SAM has formed with other organizations in Mozambique?

We have explored partnerships with foreign entities, specifically in Dubai, and are moving forward. We realize that the future of our company lies in exports, particularly to South Africa. Water is a relatively inexpensive product, but shipping far away incurs high costs. Therefore, we aim to focus on a radius of 500 to 600km, reaching nearby capitals. For exports by sea, we are targeting Dubai. We want to take advantage of the shipping routes of China, from where products are sent out and boats often return empty. We plan to fill some of those containers here and then have them unloaded in Dubai and Saudi Arabia. This method helps us improve the shipping process and reach more places.

What obstacles have you encountered on your journey?

It is challenging to operate in Mozambique because there are no large-scale production industries or laws to protect the national industry. The market here relies heavily on imported products. However, we have seen progress. Before 2006, there were very few local brands but many imports from Europe and abroad. Now, imported water is rare here and you can find Mozambican water in our markets, which is a significant shift. The best way to support Mozambique is to buy Mozambican products. Purchasing locally-produced goods creates jobs, sustains the economy, and fosters the country’s development. The main problem is the lack of respect and support for private initiatives. Despite these challenges, we have managed to establish a strong local presence, reducing dependency on imports and fostering the growth of the national industry.

How are SAM’s CSR initiatives making a positive impact on the communities in Mozambique?

We have built a medical center near our factory and established libraries to provide people with access to books and educational resources. We support various initiatives in collaboration with the government whenever possible. In the communities near our water production facilities, we have implemented several water projects to supply local populations in need.

What are your goals for 2024 and 2025?

We primarily sold still water before, but as the market grew, we had to diversify our product offerings. We are currently launching sparkling water and once we master the production of that, we plan to start creating high-quality flavored water options, in line with global trends. We are also heavily investing in environmentally friendly products. Our company is guided by two key principles: being environmentally friendly and selling genuine, unaltered water from nature. We also have expansion goals. We already operate two factories, one in Namaacha and the other 30 kilometers north of Maputo. Our plans include working efficiently within our existing factories, and exploring product diversification with a potential third factory. We are actively seeking partners to make this project a reality, but we have not found the right collaborators yet. We aim to develop our operations further and hope to start a new factory in collaboration with other partners.

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