NAMIBIA – Until the late 1800’s, beer in the then South West Africa, was imported from Germany. The imported beer had a high alcohol content to preserve it during the long journey to Namibia by sea. It quickly became obvious that the beer was too strong for consumption in the hot African climate.
It is then that entrepreneurs started brewing beer locally and by 1920 four local breweries in Namibia had been established namely: Omaruru Brauerei, Kronenbrauerei in Swakopmund, Klein Windhoek Brauerei and Felsenkeller Brauerei, both in Windhoek.
In the same year, the four breweries were acquired by Carl List and Hermann Ohlthaver, founders of Ohlthaver & List Group who then amalgamated these into Namibia Breweries Limited, the then South West Breweries (SWB).
That began the journey of NBL, a leading beverage manufacturing company in the country striving to be ‘a catalyst for positive change, creating new realities and fulfilling dreams’ in line with its vision for 100 years now.
“We’ve built more than just a company together; we’ve created a century’s worth of memories through the lives we’ve touched and the dreams we’ve inspired. It is an honor to have walked this 100-year journey with you.”Namibia Breweries Limited
NBL headquartered in Windhoek has a significant share of the premium beer category in the region and is the leader in the Namibian beer market.
Its portfolio includes a range of soft beverages, low and non-alcoholic beverages and alcoholic products to comprise brands such as Tafel Radler, Amstel Lager, hansa, Mckane, AquaSplash, Fruitree, Camelthorn, King Lager, Windhoek, Strong bow, Heineken and Horizon.
These products are widely available throughout Namibia and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region due to an extensive distribution network and are exported to about 17 countries.
As the company celebrates its centenary, it reminisces of its journey stating, “We’ve built more than just a company together; we’ve created a century’s worth of memories through the lives we’ve touched and the dreams we’ve inspired. It is an honour to have walked this 100-year journey with you.”
The 100-year journey is marked by a range of milestones. After the formation of SWB in 1920, it acquired the Hansa Brauerei in Swakopmund in 1967. During this time, the company became the only remaining independent commercial brewery in southern Africa.
SWB later renamed to Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL) in 1990, correlating to the same time when Namibia got its independence.
It listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) in 1996 and became a publicly owned company with the O&L Group as controlling shareholder.
Being a fully fledged brewing company and seeking strategic partnerships, NBL partnered with Diageo, the world’s largest distiller, and brewer Heineken in 2003. The following year NBL started producing Heineken for Namibia and exporting it South Africa.
Later in 2015 NBL restructured its operations in Namibia and South Africa, resulting in Heineken acquiring Diageo’s indirect stake in NBL.
The new joint venture between NBL and Heineken became exclusively focused on beer portfolio which would be beneficial to growing key brands in South Africa.
NBL’s Corporate Social Initiatives
Other than being a leader in the beverage sector, NBL takes its role as a corporate citizen seriously and therefore has long-standing partnerships with various Corporate Social Investment partners.
Key elements in its CSI portfolio include its commitment to responsible drinking, environmental preservation, health and education as key drivers of social upliftment within communities.
“We support and actively participate in the lives of our stakeholders. We realise that we, as a Group, can play an expanded role in bringing stakeholders together, and can inspire other parties to support and drive similar initiatives,” stated the company.
Some of its contribution in the society include launching its DRINKiQ training programme to empower participants with knowledge on alcohol consumption.
The company is also a founding member of the Recycle Namibia Forum (RNF).
In November 2011, it developed the first Namibian barley crop in partnership with the University of Namibia and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, to determine the viability of growing barley and procuring malted barley locally.
The company recently launched the Takes a Nation campaign as a call for all to stand together against a shared challenge especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It almost goes without saying that we individually carry a sense of duty, an ethical responsibility towards national safety and the general air of happiness across our motherland.
“We all – in our individual ways –love everything Namibia and so will protect her, together. Our response to the current global pandemic is very telling of this,” it stated.
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