How an EBRD-supported Croatian company became a market leader
Five years after Silvija Repić introduced hummus to Croatia her success and that of her company, Sana delikatese, stretches as far as the chickpea purée can be spread, as a starter, a side dish or a treat charming the taste buds.
While hummus is ubiquitous in the Middle East, it was virtually unknown in Croatia before Silvija brought the delicacy to the country. She took a deep dip, but one based on thorough market research. It convinced her that Croatians were ready for something new.
Today the firm’s range of hummus products is offered by almost every Croatian retailer and popular in the hospitality sector. Sana is the dominant market leader with a share of the hummus market of over 85 per cent.
One of the reasons for its success has been the growing health consciousness of Croatian consumers. Building on this trend, the company is now diversifying into a gluten-free product line. This is a fast growing sector of the European food market and expected to almost double in size in the next five years alone.
In 2018, Sana benefitted from a loan from Raiffeisen Bank, an EBRD partner bank under the Women in Business Programme in Croatia and EBRD Advice for Small Businesses. The bank supported the company with the development of a market analysis, a strategy and an action plan. Several European firms served as comparators and benchmarks from which to draw practical conclusions.
“Combining lending and advisory services proved to be very successful for women-led enterprises in Croatia,” said Victoria Zinchuk, head of the EBRD office in Croatia.
“Sana is an excellent example of high potential client that has identified a niche market and developed rapidly with the assistance provided by EBRD. Donor support is of absolute importance for this type of blended financing instruments.”
Silvija and her team left nothing to chance. In 2018 they held extensive market tests in hotels, restaurants and cafes and acted on the feedback immediately.
Sana delikatese now offers product such as beetroot ketchup, dates sauce, apple chips and many more. Some may still sound exotic, but they clearly are what consumers want. In 2017 and 2018 again Sana’s increased its turnover by 30 per cent each year.
Silvija, who is director and owner of Sana delikatese, said: “know-how, marketing budgets and budgets for investments in new products are always a challenge for a small company. Cooperation with the EBRD and our consultant helped us a lot to focus, achieve our goals faster and gave us additional push to grow.
“Also, we have received favourable financing conditions from Raiffeisen, which was very useful at the time when we were preparing our business for the peak season.”
The Women in Business Programme in Croatia is financed by the TaiwanBusiness-EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund and EBRD Shareholder Special Fund. Since 2015 the Programme has offered advice and financing in partnership with Raiffeisen Bank and Hrvatska poštanska banka. In Croatia, thanks to donor support, EBRD has assisted 136 local women-led companies with tailor-made advice and many more through training and networking opportunities.