Yasmin Kamir is the owner of Eriza Investments Limited located in Ukunda which happens to be one of the leading Coca Cola distributors in the Coast region. However, she was not always a soda distributor, prior to this she used to run a small hardware shop.
Her journey to becoming a Coca Cola distributor started off in 2013 while she was still running the hardware. It was during her daily commute to and from work that she noticed that the people in her area did not have access to sodas which happened to be in great demand due to the hot coastal weather. Spotting a business opportunity, she approached the person who used to distribute sodas in the area in a bid to know how she can get into the business. The individual intent on discouraging her from venturing into the business, told her that if she wanted to start, she needed to buy 150 crates of soda from him and that she would get be getting a profit of Ksh. 10 per crate. Despite the low margins, Yasmin saw an opportunity and she got a loan to purchase the crates and she started selling the sodas and due to the demand business was good.
After some time, she decided to visit the distributor in her area hopping to get better prices for the sodas that the ones she was getting. Unfortunately, she found that the person whom she had been dealing with was the authorized distributor in the area so there was no way she was going to get a better deal. However, as they say, every cloud has a silver lining in that during her visit to the distributor, she got to find out that he was struggling financially and could not be able to buy enough sodas from Coca Cola to meet the demand in the area. This confirmed to her that indeed there was a good business opportunity in selling sodas. It was at this point that she decided to buy a pickup which she started operating with her husband where she assumed the role of a saleslady. At this point business really picked up as she was able to serve the market that the official distributor could not satisfy.
In 2014, Nick Maina who was the Regional Manager for Coca Cola (which she didn’t know at the time) passed by her shop and asked for Ginger Ale, Fanta Strawberry, Soda Water and Club Soda. Nick was pleasantly surprised that she had all these products yet their official distributor in Changamwe did not have them. The next time she saw Nick, he was in the company of top officials from Coca Cola who included the then C.E.O Mr. Ebrahim. Nick had seen the potential in Yasmin’s business, and he urged the C.E.O to help her expand. Mr. Ebrahim must have seen Yasmin’s passion for her business due to the fact that he told her to come see him in his office the following day. When she got to the office, Mr. Ebrahim reiterated his willingness to help her expand her business, but the only problem was that she did not have the resources needed to purchase more stock. It was at this point that Mr. Ebrahim asked her whether she had a title deed that she could use as collateral to access financing. Luckily, she had a title deed, Mr. Ebrahim referred her to a bank manager who then issued her with a loan of Ksh. 1 Million to facilitate her expansion and this is when her business really kicked off.
Come 2015, due to her hard work, she was made a full distributor and if that was not enough, she was also given a new lorry on flexible credit terms by Coastal Bottlers to help her distribute the sodas. She was able to finish paying for the lorry in good time and even emerged as the best distributor in that region. Her hard work paid off in that when a new region opened up, she was appointed as the official distributor and she was also given another lorry on credit to aid in distribution. She also bought a lorry from her proceeds because she could see that her business was growing and there was a need.
In 2018, due to her good performance in the areas that she had been appointed as a distributor, she was also given the Ukunda area to manage thus expanding her business. Since 2013, Yasmin’s business has grown in leaps and bounds in ways that she could not have imagined, and she gives all the credit to Coca Cola for aiding in her journey. That is from giving her vehicles on credit at a time when she could not afford to buy a new vehicle for her business to giving her stock worth over 10 Million on credit which have all aided her to be the successful business lady she is today.
As well all know, the year 2020 was a challenge to everyone more so those who are in business and Yasmin was no exception. Being that her major clients were hotels, bars and nightclubs which were closed at some point due to the lockdown, her business really suffered. However, Coca Cola came to her rescue in that they started allowing her to take some goods on credit and extended her repayment period. As per her contract with Coast Bottlers, she was supposed to get 10 lorries of products per day, however, they allowed her to reduce them to five due to low sales which enabled her to save on fuel and salaries. Also, as a distributor one is supposed to pay for crates but this time around Coca Cola gave them to her on credit.
Courtesy of the credit that Coca Cola gave to Yasmin, she was able to extend the same to her clients. Her clients benefited from credit on the sodas as well crates, this allowed them to go out and sell the products and remit the proceeds later. This enabled the traders to continue being in business at a time when a lot of them were closing down. Yasmin with support from Coca Cola also aided the hotels and bars which were closed down to give back the stock which they had taken before the lockdown which she then sold on their behalf as means of reducing the losses that they had incurred.
All this is part of the Coca Cola “Open Like Never Before” campaign which aims to support businesses in its value chain recover from the effects of Covid-19. Towards this, Coca Cola has committed Ksh. 125 Million to support 18,000 traders, waste collectors, restaurants and kiosks weather the Covid-19 storm and continue being in business.