United Exports has been growing blueberries since 2013 under the brand name OzBlu, which covers several types of blueberries. The berries are grown on United Exports’ own farms and purchased from local farmers. By spreading the production geographically and growing the blueberries outside the rainy season in the different areas, the company can deliver blueberries all year to export markets in Europe, Australia, US and Latin America.
United Exports own 300 ha land, and 400 ha more are included through collaboration with local farmers in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In addition, the company owns several packing facilities.
The Danish SDG Investment Fund is financing extension
The Danish SDG Investment Fund has invested approximately DKK 225m in United Exports in collaboration with its sister organisations FMO and IFC, which is a part of the World Bank. The investment enables the company to increase its planting and packing capacity to capture market shares in the fast-growing international market for blueberries. The investors will provide a long-term financing package to support the company’s expansion programme. The instrument was specifically designed to assume early-stage risk not offered by commercial banks.
“The investment from the three development finance institutions enables us to increase the supply of new types of blueberries and to improve the technology applied at our farms, so we can increase efficiency and revenues.”
Roger Horak, founder and group CEO, United Exports
Business with a solid local impact
The majority of United Exports’ employees are women, and during peak picking season, when the blueberries are harvested, the company employs more than 5,000 seasonal workers, of whom 90 per cent are women. Therefore, United Exports carries out a number of activities aimed at the female employees, e.g. training, health and in the future also a programme focusing on e.g. discrimination, self-esteem and stress.
Moreover, the founder of the company, Roger Horak, has established OzBlu academy, which will provide medium and long-term education in genetics research for around 50 graduates and five PhDs.
“The financing for United Exports is a good example of how we can assist private companies in growing their business, increasing local jobs, food production as well as rural development, which is in line with our aim to support the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
Anders Frigaard, Senior Investment Manager, IFU