An interview of Johan Doyer, Managing Director of Heineken in Ethiopia

Posted in Interviews


After less than 4 years from the acquisition of the Bedele and Harar breweries, which were acquired from the GoE in 2011, Heineken have now inaugurated in January 2015 the biggest brewery in Ethiopia.

The €110mln brewery is part of a total investment program of €310mln in the country since 2011. Why Heineken first decided to invest in Ethiopia?

Ethiopia is a young and dynamic beer market with per capita consumption of about 5L, a population of 92 million people and is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It is therefore no surprise that HEINEKEN is investing for the future and preparing for a more competitive and demanding market. Our objective is to create a leading brewery group in Ethiopia, through a strong portfolio of national and international brands and best in class people, processes and performance, and at the same time be a partner for growth in the communities in which we operate.

Why Heineken decided to invest into building a new facility in Kilinto?

The demand for our beers is growing and we predict will continue to grow over the years to come. We already have breweries in Bedele and Harar, but we needed to add capacity in the Addis Ababa area. It was part of our business plans when we bought Harar and Bedele brewery to build additional capacity closer to the heart of the beer market to 

become a truly national player. In the new brewery, we produce Walia, Bedele and Harar, and other new brands including Heineken will follow.

How is the relationship of the GoE and its agencies? Which is the preferred channel to communicate with the GoE?

The Ethiopian Government has been very supportive starting with the purchase of previously state owned Bedele and Harar breweries which formed the basis of our operating business in Ethiopia. The Government also paved the way to build our new state of the art brewery in Kilinto and has been very supportive through the whole process of acquiring the land and building the brewery. On a wider scale, we have two on-going Public Private Partnerships which have the Government as a key stakeholder. Establishing relationships with key stakeholders in both the government and private sector is very important in Ethiopia.
Which have been the preferred channels you used to recruit the personnel? (Specialized newspapers and/or website, direct link with universities…)
We source talent using various channels like recruitment websites (eg. Ethiojobs), Open Job Fairs, Newspapers, Universities and vocational colleges.
Were you looking for highly skilled employees or for people to be trained? Do you have training programs?

Our focus is not necessarily on the number of years of experience the candidate has but making sure the candidate has ‘Drive to Win’; Integrity; Passion and a high level of Accountability. We also have a Management Trainee Program which aims to build the talent pipeline with University Graduates. They are provided various assignments and development workshops along with on the job training. So far we have recruited from AAU, Jimma and Haramaya University for this program.

We provide functional, leadership and technical trainings both locally and internationally. We also send key staff on international benchmarking visits to other breweries. In addition, there are on-goingtrainings on safety & health, responsible consumption and Code of Business Conduct. HEIENEKEN has online learning academies geared towards all disciplines available for all staff across the globe.

How do you retain Talents? Do you have any special program?

In addition to offering a competitive remuneration package, we offer a wide range of benefits to include free treatment at brewery clinics, medical insurance, transportation, bonus pay-outs, loan options, local and international training opportunities, career prospects to name a few.

What would be your recommendations to other EU businesses investing/willing to invest in Ethiopia? Any other important messages you are willing to share with our Members.

In 2013 HEINEKEN signed a 4 year Public Private Partnership called CREATE (Community Revenue Enhancement Through Agricultural Technology Extension), in partnership with the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) and Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), aimed at improving quality and quantity of malt barley grown in Ethiopia as well as improved access to markets for farmers. This has already enabled HEINEKEN to support local smallholder farmers to supply our breweries and drive this desired increase in local sourcing.  After only two years in operation, the CREATE Project is already supporting more than 6,000 farmers, and by 2017, this will grow to 20,000 farmers.

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