The health crisis caused by COVID19 has had negative impacts on the global economy. Nevertheless, it has allowed some small enterprises to boost their income. This is the case of Agro Food Business (AFoB), a small social enterprise in northern Benin.
Founded and headed by an academician entrepreneur, Dr. Ir. Soulé Akinhola ADECHIAN, AFoB is involved in the production, processing and marketing of perishable agricultural products, particularly indigenous leafy vegetables. In this period of health crisis, one of the company’s products, African basil juice, had seen spectacular sales.
Spectacular growth of AFoB’s sales
The evolution of the sale of African basil juice by AFoB had three main periods (Figure 2). The first period is characterized by an average weekly sale of 19.7 crates of juice. The weekly income in this period is on average 180.8 Euro. The second period is characterized by an average weekly sale of 28.0 crates of juice with an income of 256.6 Euro. Compared to the first period, the rate of increase for the second period is 17.3%. The third period of the evolution is marked by an average weekly sale of 57.3 crates of juice. The corresponding weekly income is on average 525.5 Euro. The rate of increase compared with the second period is 34.4%. This rate of increase shows that the sale of juice almost doubled in the third period of the evolution of the company’s sales.
The increase in sales experienced by AFoB during the second phase is explained by the creation of a new distribution centre for its products following the financing of Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). The installation of the new centre enabled the enterprise to improve its income by 17.3% within two months. The increase in the third period is explained by the business opportunity generated by the Corona virus pandemic (COVID-19).
What strategy did we adopt during this period to improve sales?
Most scientific work recognized that people with higher immune systems are resistant to viral infections including COVID-19. To this end, World Health Organization and researcher recommend a high consumption of fruits and vegetables to naturally strengthen the human immune system to limit COVID-19 infection. These research results provide for my enterprise a basis of motivation. We grasped the opportunity to strengthen the marketing strategy of my enterprise.
As the population is looking for protection against the pandemic by boosting their immune system, we developed “consumer advice” for our juice. It is a natural juice made from African basil, locally called “Tchiayo”. The sugar has been replaced by pineapple. Locally, African basil is known to strengthen the immune system due to its antibiotic power. In addition, studies have proven the richness of this vegetable in vitamins and polyphenols. Indeed, since the appearance of the first case of COVID-19 in Benin, we have accompanied the sale of this juice with advice on its benefits in strengthening the immune system to resist the COVID-19 viral infection. The objective is to persuade consumers that our juice is perfectly suited to boost the human immune system.
Implication and conclusion
The health crisis caused by COVID-19 seems to be a business opportunity for some companies. Through the case of AFoB in North Benin, we have seen a particular increase in the sale of African basil juice. We used the results of research and the recommendations of World Health Organization, which suggest frequent consumption of vegetables to resist the COVID-19 viral infection, to set up a system of advice to consumers. This has helped persuade them customers on the benefits of African basil juice to improve the immune system to resist the viral infection.
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