As the founder of the East Africa Bottling Share Company, entrepreneur Negusse Hailu executed a complex plan to vastly expand the company’s annual volume, and the results exceeded expectations.
The company’s renewed success attracted the attention of world-famous beverage company Coca-Cola, which saw EABSC as an exciting investment opportunity.
Soon after, EABSC became an official Coca-Cola subsidiary, furthering the company’s success and available resources. With this partnership, Coca-Cola’s market share in Ethiopia increased to 68% from 51% before EABSC became their subsidiary. Even better, Hailu’s business endeavor created over 1,000 job positions in 2012, which later increased to 3500 in 2022. Similarly, over 75, 000 individuals are beneficiaries of their value system.
But this is just one of Hailu’s many career accomplishments, and there’s a lot more to talk about.
Fortunately, Hailu spoke with us recently to discuss some of the high points of his career so far, as well as his personal definition of success. Please enjoy.
As an entrepreneur, I define success in four ways. One is to be a pioneer in whatever you do. The second definition is being able to do what you want. You’re not obliged to do something because people want you to but because you want to. The third is to be able to transfer knowledge. And the fourth is when you are called in to be an advisor. It means your experience is appreciated.
Also, success means being able to spend your time exactly how you want. You can wake up when you want, rest when you want, and enjoy life.
I believe it’s my communication skills. These skills allow me to achieve the unachievable. My communication skills make it possible for me to deal with any number of difficult situations.
As for the people I admire, one is definitely my godfather Antonio Varenna and my Uncle Abiselom. For entrepreneurs, the person I admire most is Warren Buffett. I love his thinking, I love his humility, and I love his sincerity.
One of my biggest successes was in the late 80s. I was able to create a very modern, one-of-a-kind farm in Ethiopia. It was the first in Ethiopia to have a leather leveling machine and the first to use cannon irrigation. I was the first to export beans, asparagus, and strawberries to the Italian market. With product export limited only from December to April, I was able to charter four planes per week into the Italian market through Ethiopian airlines. Operations as big as this usually require businessmen to create cooperatives, but I am proud to say that I did it alone.
The second biggest achievement was growing my company from 5 million crates to 100 million crates, with the help of my partner. Also, becoming a subsidiary of Coca-Cola International. It’s been a dream come true.
I was the founder of the East Africa Bottling Share Company and the major shareholder. When we were looking to expand in 2008, the company needed a chairman who could provide strong leadership. At that time, I helped recruit hardworking and talented individuals and shaped the growth of the local market.
Thanks to my experience and my professional convictions, I was chosen to be the chairman of the East Africa Bottling Share Company.
We believed that Coca-Cola had a future in Africa, so there was a lot of interest in the company. Then Coca-Cola became a major shareholder in another large African beverage company.
From there, Coca-Cola International also became a major shareholder of EABSC. Because of our hard work to increase our volume from 55 million crates to more than 100 million crates, our company was very attractive to Coca-Cola, and we are now one of their most important subsidiaries in Africa.
For me to stay motivated in my work, there need to be a lot of difficult challenges. When day-to-day work becomes mundane, it doesn’t interest me. If I’ve overcome one challenge, then I need to move on to the next one. The challenge is what drives me.
My plan is to expand into the United States. I also have a great deal of experience in gold mining and lithium mining, so I’d like to encourage more American companies to operate in Africa.
I also plan to grow the reach of Ethiopian coffee. Ethiopian coffee is very popular in Japan, but it only makes up 3% of the American coffee market. I’d like to get that number into the double digits.
Third, I want to invest in software. Especially in America, there’s so much talent, and I think that I could work with some of that talent to realize my ideas for software products. But this is currently in the works, so I can’t talk about it in detail right now.
Being a business leader gives you the opportunity to learn something new every day. As a leader, you can also tackle social problems in your country, to help everyone. You have a chance to bring your ideas to life. For all these reasons, I love working as a business leader. It’s a very fulfilling profession.