Getting your “Dawa” at your convenience
Lemon fruit is a widely used product in Kenyan households. From salad dressing to cake garnishes, one of the most popular uses is in making the lemon-ginger-honey health drink, “dawa”. Lemons are traditionally used as a fresh fruit that can last only for a few days before getting spoilt. Lemons are easily found products in the market being available all year round, despite the change in pricing as per the fruits season. Dawa has become a household health drink that promises to cure common colds, fevers and prevent bacterial infections. However, making the drink is time consuming and requires around 20 minutes to prepare. The easiest option is to purchase the drink from local cafes that offer the drink.
Related article: Value addition of fruits and vegetables
Raymond Sudoi together with Pauline Nyoru (co-founders of Supacon Limited) decided to develop a health-based drink made from freshly squeezed lemons. Their first product, “the classic”, is for consumers who are constantly on the go. They also developed a variant of the lemonade by adding a twist of spicy ginger, “the ginger”, for those who are in need of their daily boost of dawa. The product can be found in supermarket shelves as Essy's Premium Lemonade. They take pride in their product as it offers a healthy option to their consumers, as the product is made from real lemon and real ginger and not artificial flavors.
The company was founded in 2015 but product development began a year later. The finished product was ready for market testing in early 2017 and finally went commercial in December 2017.
The market has been quite responsive with the value adding product. The sales- mainly targeting the middle class economic group- has been quite promising. It is refreshing and a suitable alternative to the high fructose drinks in the market that have been linked to numerous lifestyle diseases.
The product offers a variety of health benefits such as boosting immunity, helping in weight control, promoting healthy skin and heart and preventing kidney stones, among other benefits.
Improving the lemon value chain to scale up the business
According to Raymond, “Our biggest challenge as of now is that we source for our lemons directly from the market. It affects our profits, in that the prices fluctuate depending on the season, which affects the pricing of the product and at times the quality too is compromised. The price for ginger, though, remains fairly the same.”
They are looking to mitigate the challenge by working directly with farmers in getting the raw material. They plan to introduce contractual farming for the lemons, as most lemon farmers struggle to access value addition markets for their farm produce. That way, the farmers can produce knowing that they will have a ready market with predictable prices. Lemons can produced throughout the year, and therefore this could be a good and continuous source of income for the farmers.
Raymond quips, “We will be able to have a constant supply of our main source of raw material, lemon, and benefit from the economies of scale.”
Essy's Premium gets assistance from KCIC
The manufacturing process of the product also offers employment to mostly women and thus empowering their communities. They are looking into additional ways they can manipulate the lemons to develop new products.
They have received support from Kenya Research Development Institute (KIRDI), by accessing the incubation facilities for production. They have partnered with the Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC), to receive access to facilities, business development services, access to markets and access to investors.
The health drinks retail for KES 110-150 and is widely available in the major cities and towns in Kenya with more than 20 listings across Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru and Mombasa
To find a map on where you can access the health drink, visit www.essyspremium.co.ke
By: Michelle Mung'ata