SOUTH AFRICA – South African JSE-listed food producer Libstar is on the hunt for well-established, food-focused small businesses brimming with potential, to partner with in line with its growth strategy.

The consumer-packaged goods manufacturer seeks to achieve this through its newly established incubator project dubbed Libstar Nova.

Libstar Nova, aims to enrich and scale up the operations of local entrepreneurs that average between R15-million and R50-million a year in turnover.

Johan Greeff, chief growth officer for Libstar, says, “Libstar Nova takes us back to the roots of how we were originally founded.

“By partnering with local entrepreneurs, we can move into adjacent categories, explore new innovations, and access core capabilities and talent.

“Most importantly, 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.”

Greeff also highlighted that targeting innovative entrepreneurs brings top talent into the Libstar fold.

“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,” he said.

The group is particularly interested in family-run ventures, which coincides with Libstar’s family-oriented philosophy.

For example, the company earlier this year took on board its first small business to incubate, a baby-food brand called Umatie, which Libstar says is both family-run and has strong values to boot.

Umatie co-founder Anna Olivier says Libstar is helping the company run successfully and makes the brand visible to more South African households, as the company aims to grow Umatie’s retail footprint and offer new products.

Libstar encourages prospective small businesses to reach out to it with regard to possible partnerships.

South Africa has seen a number of strategic acquisitions over the last year especially in the food space.

Food manufacturing giant, Tiger Brands, recently launched the Tiger Brands Venture Capital Fund with an initial capital allocation of about R100 million (US$7.17 million), targeting food and beverage start-ups.

The funds priority is investment in consumer brands and Intellectual Property within the food and beverage sector.

Its secondary focus is on capability and technology opportunities across the value chain which can benefit the broader Tiger business.

Relevant opportunities include emerging and existing consumer trends such as Health and Nutrition, Plant Based foods, Convenience and Snackification.

Tiger Brands Venture Capital Fund made its inaugural investment in March, backing Herbivore Earthfoods, a Cape Town headquartered woman-founded business specialising in the manufacture and sale of plant-based and vegan products.

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