Innovative food start ups join Libstar

South African JSE-listed food producer Libstar is looking for small, food-focused businesses to partner with via its new Libstar Nova Division.

Libstar Nova is the company’s incubator project we are committed to supporting entrepreneurs in helping them grow their businesses and scaling them up at an accelerated rate.

Johan Greeff, chief growth officer for Libstar, says, “Libstar Nova takes us back to the roots of how we were originally founded. Partnering with local entrepreneurs allows us to expand into adjacent areas, explore new innovation, and access our core capabilities as well as 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 flying. That’s what sets Libstar Nova apart and gets to the heart of what our family is all about.”

Greeff claims that Libstar attracts the best talent by targeting innovative entrepreneurs. “Our entrepreneurial value is to innovate boldly and work tirelessly. We often find people whose entrepreneurial skills and determination match ours by looking for others who have built successful ventures. As a business with a family philosophy, we’re also after family-run ventures. Umatie ticks both boxes.”

Acquisition of Umatie by Libstar

The division’s first acquisition, which occurred this year, is that of Umatie, a South African family-focused baby and children food brand.

In 2012, Judi de Jongh and Anna Olivier, two sisters founded Umatie. When De Jongh was little, she couldn’t pronounce ‘tamatie’, so she’d ask her mom for an ‘umatie’ – hence the name. When Olivier’s first baby started solids, Olivier delighted in making her special dishes to try. Olivier and De Jongh realized how much their baby loved food so they decided to share the delicious meals with other babies.

Leaning on their shared passion for good food, the sisters birthed the Umatie brand, which aims to make weaning effortless and help busy parents ‘buy’ back time to spend with their families.

On the Libstar acquisition, Olivier adds, “Just as little ones need food to grow and reach their full potential, so do businesses. Umatie dreams big, and with the support from Libstar Nova, there are no limits for her baby Umatie!

“We remain fully immersed in running all aspects of the business and are excited about the backing from Libstar Nova to assist with this growth. We look forward to making our brand accessible to many more South African households.”

With Libstar’s might behind it, De Jongh says the sisters are aiming to grow Umatie’s retail footprint and add exciting new baby and kid products to the mix. The brand will grow but it will keep its roots.

Olivier says, “We have painstakingly ensured that we have a reliable, quality product before taking the next step to scale and expand. We believe that you should be good at what you do. This has also contributed to Umatie being very much loved by our customers.”

Libstar has purchased a majority of Umatie’s shares and will be partnering with Olivier and De Jongh. Greeff adds, “We invest for the long-term. We’re not just adding capital. We are partnering with entrepreneurs on the journey.”

Is your business next?

Greeff says that Libstar is interested in partnering with other established ventures, with a turnover between R15 million and R50 millions per annum. Its mission, according to Greeff, is to support entrepreneurs in the area who share its passion for great foods and values.

“If that’s you, we’d love to chat! Libstar Nova gets to back to our roots and encapsulates our groups’ purpose – to enrich people’s daily lives. By investing in local businesses, we give back to the country on multiple levels in a way that makes sound business sense.”

He says Nova is awash with exciting acquisitions, with a particular focus on the supply and health sectors. “Watch this space!”

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