Today saw the launch, at the SAB World of Beer, of a unique product on the global beer market: Beers for Africa, an eight-pack of some of the continent’s most iconic brews.
But Beers for Africa is more than simply a compendium of fine African beer – it is a vehicle for social change. For every eight-pack sold, the international non-governmental organisation Stop Hunger Now Southern Africa will be able to provide three university students across the continent with a nourishing meal.
In the inaugural eight-pack are the following brands: Castle Lager (South Africa), St Louis (Botswana), Maluti Premium Lager (Lesotho), 2M (Mozambique), Laurentina Preta (Mozambique), Manica (Mozambique), Kilimanjaro Premium Lager (Tanzania) and Zambezi Premium Lager (Zimbabwe).
The brainchild of Ricardo Tadeu, zone president of Africa: Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) and SAB, the project was put together in only five months by Tadeu and Alastair Hewitt, SAB’s director of global brands for Africa, and their team.
“Today is a proud and exciting day for all of us,” Hewitt told the audience at the launch function.
“Today, we’re bringing you a taste of Africa,” he continued, adding: “This project is not just about relishing the beers of Africa, but about giving back.”
Jabu Mabuza, chairman of AB InBev Africa, spoke of SAB as one of South Africa’s most admired companies – and how his fears that its merger with AB InBev would cost it its soul, had proved unfounded.
The Beers for Africa product, he continued, speaks to the role that SAB plays in supporting the communities in which it operates, and it is important for two reasons.
Firstly, Mabuza said, he could not think of a South African who has not tasted an African beer in the countries they visit – but until now, have any of them been able to taste it anywhere else? “I bet none,” he quipped.
Secondly, Beers for Africa offers much more than brewing enjoyment – by partnering with Stop Hunger Now, “we will be making a real difference in people’s lives”.
Tadeu told the audience that Beers for Africa combines two passions for him: beer, and doing good.
“We believe that very few companies around the world can be as impactful in a country, or a continent, as SAB and AB InBev,” he said, continuing that it was thus their “duty” to make a difference to communities. Beers for Africa offers the opportunity to do just that.
And there are great plans for Beers for Africa: following its rollout in South Africa, it will next be offered in duty-free stores around the continent before being introduced to the US and other international markets. The actual composition of the pack will also change over time, with other world-class African brands being included.
“It’s time for our African beers to be on the international stage,” said Tadeu.
As Beers for Africa is rolled out to the world, its benefits – both in terms of providing wholesome meals to students, as well as stimulating economies – can be expanded far beyond the 2017 target of providing 500 000 meals.
“Imagine … where we can be, when we start making our beers global,” he said.
“You don’t know the impact of this,” said Saira Khan, CEO of Stop Hunger Now, when she took to the podium.
She said a survey of African universities showed that 40% of student failures can be attributed to their going hungry. Most students come from poor backgrounds, and head households as well – and they are “starving, battling to complete their education”.
This is why the Beers for Africa initiative is so important, and Khan expressed her thanks to SAB for undertaking it.