Hi Guys! We know the festive season as that time where we either make 20L buckets of igemere (homemade ginger beer) for the whole family or we buy from that lady on the street who makes a mean ice cold gemmer. A lot of people tend to be lazy to make a 20L bucket of gemmer these days, but we can’t blame them – everyone wants to be out on the streets dancing to omunye phez’komunye! 😉
A few months ago, I was at a Sporo’s Street Cookout in Vooslorus and that’s where I saw the Original iGemmer Concentrate stand – obviously I wanted to taste it. To my surprise, it was not just a gemere they were selling but a concentrate packed in a stylish bottle. Saying that I was impressed would be an under statement – the thought of mixing it with water and then have your normal gemere just blew me away in that ‘why I never thought of this’ way. I took down the details of one of the owners, Thokozani Mathenjwa, in order to feature them here on the blog and this was our interview…..
How did the concept for iGemmer Concentrate come about?
The exposure above sparked an interest in the beverage industry after I saw an advertisement in the local newspaper to package and sell juice. Fortunately, I had good relations with the gentleman who provided the training from the previous programme, who then sourced Enterprise development funds from companies and funded my juice business.
After about a year of selling juices, I wanted to brand these juices but I didn’t own the recipe and the product itself was no longer appealing.
After speaking to a friend about my disillusionment, he then introduced me to a lady he went to church with who made gemmer in this concentrated form. I spoke to Mam’Lindi who then gave me permission to use her recipe.
It took about a year to refine and get the product to what it is today. In the meanwhile, we observed that gemmer which is a well-known product in Soweto and surrounding townships was no longer being consumed or being produced. Most people who we engaged with so as to validate our assumptions, confirmed that they had not consumed it in years or had to wait for a funeral or some sort of cultural milestone for them to taste gemmer.
Who are the consumers of your product?
We have different types of customers…we had thought that our customer base would be from the township where this product is predominantly known but to our surprise, most of the customers we have are from the suburbs. There is a bit of a bias towards females but not that much.
What are the hurdles you had to go through in order to bring the product to life?
We had to make sure the product tastes authentic which took us over a year, perfecting the taste and then finding the right suppliers to supply inputs.
We’ve had cash flow challenges and actually still have but we are much stricter than before with regards to payments. We used to give some distributors stock on consignment which hurt the business because they would take more than 30 days to pay.
Capacity constraints are one of our biggest challenges, and getting the product out into the retail space so that customers can readily purchase is one of our current hurdles we are navigating through.
What is the shelf life of iGemmer Concentrate?
Our shelf life 6 months but once it is opened it can last up to 2-3 months if stored in a cool space.
Are the bottles kept at room temperature or refrigeration temperatures?
The bottles are perfectly fine temperature.
After preparing iGemmer how long can consumers keep it before it goes off?
Once it is diluted… it can stay in the fridge for up to 2 weeks..
How can our readers get hold of it? Is it only available in Jozi?
Currently, iGemmer Concentrate is only available in Jozi but if readers would like to get hold of it we could make a plan of sending via courier. Obviously, with additional courier costs. At the moment, we are in negotiations with a service provider who can possibly be able to supply nationally. We will announce via our social media channels once that process has been finalized.
How much does a bottle cost?
750ml-R55, 1ltr-R40, 2ltr-R70 and 5ltr-R175
Where do you see your business in the next couple of years?
We are preparing to get factory space and equipment so we can scale up the business soon.
Ideally, we would love to see our product in major stores within the next year, contributing to the fiscus of our country, by providing employment and playing our role as an SMME in showing especially black youth that this is very possible…taking what is ours and commercializing it.
There you have it guys! Please support these guys – their business has potential to grow exponentially and that means job opportunities for our fellow South African youth. Big up to the iGemmer Concentrate team!
For more information or to make an order, head over to; www.igemmer.co.za