This food company wants to partner with small businesses that make at least R15 million a year

Business Insider SA
Libstar Nova partners with local businesses in food sector to help accelerate growth. (Image: Libstar)
Libstar Nova partners with local businesses in food sector to help accelerate growth. (Image: Libstar)
  • Libstar has just set up an incubation project for small businesses in the food sector, which it hopes to scale.
  • The businesses must be already well established and have a yearly turnover of between R15 million to R50 million.
  • The first business it acquired was baby and children’s food maker, Umatie, a local business founded by two sisters.
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The maker of Denny mushrooms and Lancewood products, Libstar, is hunting for local small businesses in the food sector to partner with.

Under its newly set up incubation programme called Libstar Nova, the company is looking to partner with other well-established small businesses, which generate a turnover of between R15 million to R50 million every year.

The mission of Libstar Nova is not only to support local entrepreneurs that share the same vision and passion for great food but to nurture their ventures alongside the founders, the company said. It helps to help businesses scale at a faster rate.

The project is seen as a conduit for growth for local small businesses, Johan Greeff, Chief Growth Officer for Libstar, said.

“We can leverage all our resources and expertise to be a real catalyst for growth for South African small businesses. That’s our aim. We want these businesses to fly. That’s what sets Libstar Nova apart and gets to the heart of what our family is all about,” said Greeff.

He said partnering with local entrepreneurs would also help Libstar move into alternate categories and explore new innovations. He said it would also help it tap into new talent and core capabilities.

“Our entrepreneurial value is to innovate boldly and work tirelessly. By seeking people who have already built successful ventures, we typically find individuals whose values and tenacity match our own. As a business with a family philosophy, we’re also after family-run ventures,” said Greeff.

Libstar Nova has already made its first acquisition – a family-owned producer of baby and children’s food, Umatie, founded in 2012.

Libstar acquired a majority share of the brand and will partner with its founders.

“We invest for the long-term. We’re not just adding capital. We are partnering with entrepreneurs on the journey,” Greeff said.

New born idea

Umatie was established by two sisters, Anna Olivier and Judi de Jongh. The company, whose core focus is solid baby food, was born out of the sisters’ passion for effortlessly transitioning babies to solid foods.

“We remain fully immersed in running all aspects of the business and are excited about the backing from Libstar Nova to assist with this growth. We look forward to making our brand accessible to many more South African households,” Olivier said.

“Just as little ones need food to grow and reach their full potential, so do businesses. Umatie has big dreams, and with the support of Libstar Nova, the sky is the limit for our Umatie baby,” she said.

De Jongh said they plan to grow Umatie’s retail footprint, citing that it will be adding new baby and kid products to its offering.

“We have painstakingly ensured that we have a reliable, quality product before taking the next step to scale and expand. We believe that if you do something, you should do it well! This has also contributed to Umatie being very much loved by our customers,” de Jongh said.

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