It’s been a long time coming for KATHIKU, a Botswana beverage brand, but finally it has made its way into shelves of local retail stores among them Sefalana stores in Shakawe, Maun and Gaborone Sefalana Hyper Store ( Block 3 Industrial) and Sefalana Setlhoa.
KATHIKU means the magic hour before sunset and is owned by Okavango native, Ineeleng Kavindama. She shares that the name is a Hambukushu name from the Okavango region.
Ineeleng is a retired fashion designer who was based in Johannesburg until 2003 and she says she went into early retirement to pursue other business goals like medical equipment business and Vintage Car rental.
She says it was her South African friend that introduced her to the right people in the liquor industry at a time where she felt it was time to quit the medical supply business and was looking to diversify.
Kathiku Beverages is Ineeleng’s brainchild and she is the major shareholder. It is currently manufactured and bottled in South Africa and distributed in Botswana.
Ineeleng says they started their brand awareness campaign during the festive season last December but they were mostly doing promotions and sponsoring different artists to alert the public about Kathiku. “We also started negotiating with retailers and recently sealed a distribution deal with Sefalana,” she adds.
Under the Kathiku brand the company has “Kathiku Big 5 collection” which is based on the big 5 animals that are found in the Okavango region to represent the 5 Kathiku flavors namely;
Kathiku handcrafted pure Gin 43% alcohol (Elephant), Kathiku handcrafted Vodka 43% alcohol (Lion), Kathiku Elder Flower & Rose Infused handcrafted Gin 43% (Leopard), Kathiku Blondie Cream Liqueur 15.5% alcohol (Buffalo), Kathiku English Toffee Cream Liqueur 15.5% alcohol (Rhino). Kathiku Beverages are also agents for other wine brands like Fat Tree wines and Vinette canned wines with 13.5 % alcohol from Stellenbosh, Capetown.
The company also also has three types of Ice Diamond energy drink flavors premixed with 5.5 % alcohol of vodka, gin and Rum and Raspberry.
Sunday Standard Business recently interviewed the Kathiku owner and she says the brand will be targeting the tourism sector because the theme is Okavango Delta based and owned by someone from the Delta.
She says they have deliberately gone with simple packaging to celebrate their simple lifestyle and to pay homage to the people of Okavango region simply because when tourists come to Botswana they come to experience their simple way of life as they are already accustomed to the glitz and glam in the first world countries.
Ineeleng says this does not mean they compromise on quality as their products are premium and of top notch quality hence Kathiku spirits (Vodka and Gins) fall under the category of “Handcrafted spirits” and not mass production.
She also notes that most of the wines that they represent have won international wine awards like the Michelangelo and Tim Atkin awards.
“Most importantly, our products don’t give a hangover. You can actually have a drink during the week and still get up fresh without a splitting headache. They are that good, smooth and are a good mix for cocktails,” she notes.
Ineeleng says the business is capital intensive because one has to always have stock as they are given about a week to deliver to stores at their own cost. She adds that it’s not that labour intensive if one has structures in place for reliable suppliers and reliable logistics companies to deliver to different stores, as well as a marketing team to target specific events to promote the products.
She says the company is still bottling in South Africa to lessen the overheads of running a manufacturing plant. “After 6 months to a year when we have settled comfortably in the business we will consider manufacturing and bottling in Botswana in order to employ more people. Currently we are still at the initial stage which is the marketing side and distribution.” She adds.
Ineeleng says they are empowering locals in terms of hiring artists and social media influencers to promote their products. They are also printing their labels in Botswana using local printing companies. “We also use local graphic designers to do the artwork for promotions. Moreover, for distribution we are using local logistics companies to transport our goods to as far as Shakawe and Maun,” she notes.
In terms of competition the Kathiku owner says there will always be competition in every field but they don’t mind it as it keeps them on their toes and helps them learn from their competitors who have been in the market for long.
She adds that their advantage is that their brand is a 100% citizen owned company.
Ineeleng reveals that they are at the final stages of negotiating with another retailer that has a footprint in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Their dream is to export to the international market and they trust that they have branded their products well with the Okavango theme and a mokoro (boat) picture and the big 5 animals to appeal to the international market.
The Okavango native says people should expect more Kathiku Beverages activations and parties across the country in their pursuit to introduce the brand to the public.