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'Dani Ladies' creating a culture in the sun

By unknown | Jun 05, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Joyce Daka is a "Dani Lady", one of a network leading a new project by a French food group to expand its market share into poor neighbourhoods.

Daka sells small cups of vitamin-enriched yoghurt door-to-door in Orange Farm, a sprawling township of modest houses and makeshift shacks west of Johannesburg.

A year ago, Daka, 50, was struggling to support herself, three children and two orphaned relatives. "Often we didn't have enough food for daily needs," she said. "I've always been unemployed." Now she is a successful entrepreneur earning R2000 a month.

The company, like other international food groups, is rushing into emerging markets in a bid to offset sluggish growth elsewhere. An estimated 4billion potential consumers around the world live on less than $2 a day - about R15.

After less than two years, sales by volume of the new low-cost product, so far only rolled out in the Johannesburg area, are outstripping some of the firm's major national brands.

"Sales are fantastic," Maria Pretorius, the company's local marketing manager, said of the low-cost product.

Its traditional, higher-priced products, sold through regular distribution channels and supermarkets, are out of the reach of most in South Africa, where more than a quarter of the population is unemployed.

"We realised our products were neither available nor affordable to a large percentage of the population," said Pretorius.

So, with their local dairy partner, the company created a product that sells for one rand. The company also set up a separate network of distributors such as Daka.

"That was the main challenge; how to make the product available, because our distribution systems do not reach into the townships," Pretorius said.

"Dani Ladies" are trained to sell in open-air markets or door-to-door in townships.

The company provides a uniform, a cooler box, a trolley, support and training, but the saleswomen must pay for the product in advance after a pilot credit system was found to be unworkable.

Susan Phungo, 36, has expanded her road-side stall business by selling "Danimal" yoghurt in addition to vegetables and dried beans. - Reuters


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