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Filipe Barros

CEO, Angola Wines & Spirits Company, Lda.

Ricardo Guerra

Founder, OLW

With a local and regional market that offers great opportunities, local spirits producers are excited to develop successful brands and market them globally.
Can you elaborate on the company and its trajectory in Angola?

FILIPE BARROS Angola Wines and Spirits Company is a Distell Group company, one of the biggest beverage producers in South Africa and it is present in many countries in Africa. In Angola, we produce some Distell brands, mainly ciders. The Savanna, Hunter’s and Mustang, as well as the famous Esprit that is a RTD. We also import and distribute beverages produced by Distell in South Africa, such as JC Le Roux, Amarula, and the Nederburg wines. Amarula is the second-best selling cream liqueur in the world after Baileys. Also, our Nederburg wines are a well-known range of wines from South Africa.

RICARDO GUERRA I started importing wines and then started selling beer from local importers. There was a lot of beer being imported at that time; however, I saw an opportunity in the local production of low-cost spirits, high-volume market. Caxaramba is the first Angolan rum is the consequence of that experience giving the natural step of working spirits with quality. You have natural varieties in the country such as the Gabela, Huambo, and Quibala varieties Dombe. We ferment, distill, and age our rum in French and American oak. Unfortunately, we lack production volume and need further growth.

What are the current investment opportunities in Angola?

FB Angola is one of the easiest countries to be in as long as a company is committed and is a responsible producer. There is a belief that for a company to be present in Angola, they need to have a local partner. This was not the case for us, so I believe anyone can do it. We made a foreign investment with the Agency for Private Investment and Promotion of Exports (AIPEX). We initially thought to make an investment of USD6 million, and we have since invested about USD25 million in total. The team from AIPEX treated us extremely well and was extremely helpful. It has been absolutely fantastic, and we have forged a solid relationship with it. We had investments approved in three or four days, which is absolutely fantastic.

What challenges did you encounter when entering the Angolan market and how did you overcome them?

RG The appearance of Biocom was highly welcomed by the drinks business in Angola, because they produce the sugar and molasses and a good quality of ethanol. And we use it too, when in need for other types of drinks. That completely changed the nature of the business because we stopped importing raw materials. That said, our business is a little different, as we are not solely engaged with spirits, but also ferment our and distill our products. This gives us the quality and the evolution of the drink that drinkers seek. The main achievement that I seek is to champion the small farmer and extend them the knowledge that they need to establish a local culture.

What are your most strategic priorities for 2023?

FB Our priorities are to continue to diversify and focus on developing solid relationships with clients and associates. To us, our clients are not just our clients, but our partners. We want to continue to gain more partners. We are present in all the 18 provinces of Angola, though we want to be stronger in some of them. In some aspects, we are extremely comfortable with our position, though we need to improve in others. Another aim for 2023 is to be more visible, more available, and more accessible across the entire country.

The company will export for the first time, starting with over 600 crates of rum Caxaramba and the same number of Gin 77, to Portugal and Italy. What are your expectations for this?

RG I believe this achievement is going to be important not just in terms of sales, but of strengthening the international image of Angola. We want to be recognized as a brand of quality, and one with a history. Rum is hugely popular, and I believe that the big players of the world are always looking for something new. They are set to consider African rum accordingly.

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