By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP) yesterday, Thursday March, 31, signed a five million United States Dollars loan agreement with King Beverage Company.
The loan which was given to Kings Beverages, a Sierra Leonean company that produces soft drinks and fruit juices, will help the company boost production, create jobs, and strengthen local agriculture value chains through increased sourcing from local farmers.
The $5 million loan, which includes $2.5 million from IFC and $2.5 million from GAFSP, will enable Kings to complete construction of its factory in Freetown, introduce new fruit juice products, and double its number of employees to 250 over the next three years.
The beverage company, which runs Sierra Leone’s largest automated beverage plant in the country, will also increase its sourcing from 40 to 150 local fruit farmers by 2025 and the expansion is also projected to create 2,600 induced and indirect jobs throughout the agriculture value chain in Sierra Leone.
IFC will complement its investment with advisory services to strengthen Kings’ occupational health and safety practices, financial and social management, corporate governance, and resource-use efficiency.
The IFC will also help build the capacity of smallholder farmers in food safety, environmental and social standards, and productivity.
“IFC’s partnership with Kings Beverages will strengthen the manufacturing and agriculture sectors in Sierra Leone, creating jobs and supporting farmers. The investment reflects IFC’s commitment to helping Sierra Leone strengthen its economy after the global shock of COVID-19,” said Kyle Kelhofer, IFC’s Senior Country Manager for Sierra Leone.
Speaking at the signing ceremony at the World Bank Office, Wilberforce in Freetown, IFC Resident Representative for Liberia and Sierra Leone, Alexandra Celestin, said the partnership was not only important for the IFC, but also for Kings Beverage Company and for the people of Sierra Leone.
Chief Executive Officer of Kings Beverage, Kishore Kumar Parwani said he has been into the beverage business for more than 10 years now with a very rich experience.
He said he has lived in Sierra Leone for more than 23 years and believes that Sierra Leoneans deserve quality beverage products which were why he started his company to produce standard and quality beverages.
He said he was looking for a partner that will help finance his business idea when the IFC eventually came to his aid.
He assured that they would produce the best of the best quality of non-alcohol beverage and boost famers in the country.
“IFC’s investment gives us the long-term financing we needed to build our capacity, to serve the fast-growing domestic market and develop a robust supply chain for a sustainable business,” said Kishore Kumar Parwani, CEO of Kings Beverages.
Sergio Pimenta IFC Regional Vice President Africa, said Sierra Leone is an important country for the IFC and that they have been around for long working to improve the economy of the country.
He said Kings Investment is very important and it will have significant impact on the country by creating jobs for hundreds of Sierra Leoneans.
He said the signing ceremony was just the beginning of a good and long lasting partnership with Kings Beverage.
Kings Beverages is a Freetown,Sierra Leone based non-alcoholic beverages manufacturing company with a mission to provide clean mineral drinking water, fruit juices and carbonated soft drinks to the local population.