Bralirwa, which is a part of the Heineken Group, is a Rwandan company with roots in the country that date back over 50 years to 1957 when the Company’s flagship Rwandan beer brand, Primus, was first produced in Gisenyi. It has since grown into one of the largest companies in Rwanda.
The history of Bralirwa begins in 1957 in the neighbor country of DRC. In that moment, the Management of BRALIMA (Brasseries Limonaderies et Malteries Africaines) decided to build another brewery in the Eastern Region, establishing the first step of Bralirwa in the city of Gisenyi, on the Northern shores of Lake Kivu, which was selected to house the new brewery for two reasons: it was easily accessible, by water, land and air and and Lake Kivu has a large quantity of proven reserves of methane gas, a source of alternative energy. The brewery became operational in 1959 and began producing Primus beer.
In 1971, the Heineken Group, a Dutch conglomerate, acquired a 75% majority share in Bralirwa. With the acquisition, Bralirwa greatly improved its brewing process. From 1971 to 1990, The Company diversified into the sparkling beverages business in 1974 when it started to produce The Coca-Cola Company products (i.e. Coca-Cola, Fanta & Sprite) under license. During the following years, the State of Rwanda acquired a 30% equity stake in the Company.
The Company’s corporate history, business, and product portfolio has continued to evolve over the years with the production of its second beer Mützig, a local premium beer brand in 1987. In 1989, it started production of Guinness beer under license and, in 1991, Bralirwa started to import Heineken beer from the Netherlands. Thanks to all these innovations, Bralirwa is today a regionally and internationally recognized brewer and soft beverage manufacturer with an expanding portfolio of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Furthermore, in 2011, Bralirwa was the first company to become a member of the Rwanda Stock Exchange, in which it has currently a great position.
Its own history has brought the company to a position in which it has become a strategic partner for the country. Bralirwa is one of the largest companies and the highest taxpayer in Rwanda. The company estimates that it has approximately 94% market share of the commercial beer market in Rwanda and 99% of the sparkling beverages market in Rwanda.
Since the beginning, Bralirwa has been a major partner for the economic and social development of the country.
Back in2008, the technical capacity at the brewery (located in Gisenyi) was increased with the installation of five additional fermentation tanks and an upgrade of the bottling line to meet the demand. This fact has helped Bralirwa to have the best distribution in the country and one of the best in all the region.
Bralirwa’s keys of success, however, can be listed as follow: its impact in Rwanda’s population, a loyalty earned over the years; an extremely developed distribution network, and a good relationship with the government and the local authorities.
In terms of Social Corporative Responsibility, the company uses its marketing programs to improve the life of the people. For instance, one of the biggest annual events in Rwanda, the Guma Guma Superstar, was a Bralirwa’s ideas that today has grown to be the most important social event in the country, helping also to improve the works and careers of local artists.
In the future, Bralirwa will keep contributing to the economy of the country by improving the skills and knowledge of its local partners. The goal is to be more independent from the imports and to develop the local operations.
Rwanda is not only a developed economy for investors but a country with an extremely convenient location that is becoming a hub which links East & West Africa. Bralirwa has been one of the keys for this transformation.