Made in KG: OA Kyrgyz Organic — from Granola Bars to a School of Baking
GO KG is launching Made in KG section, where we will tell you about different businesses based in the Kyrgyz Republic. This will include stories behind both established businesses and startups worth attention. We are starting with OA — no, not the new Netflix TV show, but a Kyrgyz organic food manufacturer. Don't forget to use our promo code GOKGOA when ordering OA Kyrgyz Organic's products to get a 10% discount.
The full name of the company is OA Kyrgyz Organic — OA is short for 'ooba', which, in its turn, is a 'yes' in Kyrgyz (the idea is reflected in the brand's logo too). This is how a company got a name with a Kyrgyz flavor. They say the most successful companies are founded by those, who were trying to satisfy their own needs. The idea came to two co-founders when researching the local market they found no companies offering online ordering and delivery of organic food products, which is a normal thing in developed countries. Breakfast for kids? They've started making granola. Lunch for kids? Granola bars. Being not happy with cookies on the market, the co-founders started making their own. Same happened with bread. This was the first push to start the company, which now has ambitious plans — to invade foreign markets and get to a regional level one day like some other Kyrgyz companies.
Fortunately a comfortable life in foreign countries was traded to building an organic food manufacturer in the Kyrgyz Republic. The company was founded in April 2016 — being this young, it's still in the process of developing its products line. Recently it started experimenting with different recipes, best of which will end up turning into finished products and enlarging range of products. Having started with producing just granola and granola bars in the very beginning, OA Kyrgyz Organic now has expanded its line to cookies, sourdough bread, dry fruit, flour, jam, quinoa and even 'sary mai', which is a traditional Kyrgyz butter. There are several traditional Kyrgyz food products in the line — airan, which is a Kyrgyz yogurt, and talkan, a flour type used in a number of traditional meals and drinks (shoro, for example) made from roasted and cracked barley, are among them. While the company's now planning to update its website, almost 60 items are currently available in the OA Kyrgyz Organic's Facebook shop.
You can see OA Kyrgyz Organic's products in different shops, chains and restaurants — it has now decided to open its own shop. For those, who prefer actual shopping to online orders, the new shop is available at 113, Gogol street. The decision to open the shop was made after numerous requests — online shopping culture is not that widespread in the Kyrgyz Republic now. Certain customers wanted to see the product before buying it and OA Kyrgyz Organic addressed this request to make their shopping more comfortable. Still, online sales are dominating — their share in total sales is almost 40% more than offline. Moreover, online sales are better for the company than distributing its products through re-sellers in a number of ways — it's a direct contact with customers. The company is currently trying to make the process easier for customers by updating its website, which currently doesn't allow online ordering, and building a separate app for that. Currently one can place an order in OA Kyrgyz Organic's online shop on Facebook, using WhatsApp messenger or calling.
Mission section on company's social media pages says it wants to produce quality organic food products to support local businesses and to care about environment. The team implementing this mission into life is not that large, only twelve members altogether. This includes bakers, confectioners, sales managers, an administrative assistant, a janitor, a designer and assistants. On top of that one of the co-founders is making a significant contribution into operation on almost every level. To handle the growth one more manager will join the company's team since February.
Granola and bars are still staying among the best selling products along with sourdough bread and cookies. Sourdough bread sales skyrocketed from 25 to 500 in just two months. The same story happened with cookies — OA Kyrgyz Organic barely manages to supply its own branded shop with it and is currently looking for ways to expand its production.
The co-founders still keep investing into the company. It has recently ordered a new equipment from France. The initial investment was around USD 120,000. This allowed OA Kyrgyz Organic to build a HACCP-standard production unit. Hazard analysis and critical control points or HACCP is a systematic preventive approach to food safety from biological, chemical, and physical hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe.
The most difficult part of building the company was related to human resources — it was hard to find professionals. Now this can turn into a separate business going forward — one of the co-founders, an amateur baker, who has finished baking classes in Paris, is planning to open a school of baking in the Kyrgyz Republic one day. OA Kyrgyz Organic sees itself in every home in the country, probably entering Kazakh market and associated with quality food products in foreseeable future.