We live in a world of choice. We choose the coffee we drink, what we eat for lunch, and the type of media content we consume. We are overwhelmed with information and it is not always easy to make the right choices.
Jamilya Imankulova is one of the founders of EcoFarm, one of the leading organic food producers in the Kyrgyz Republic. His business is all about choice. EcoFarm produces and processes a variety of organic food products including nut butters, berries, dried fruits, granola and dairy products.
“The main objective of EcoFarm is to develop organic agricultural products,” explains Jamilya. “We’ve been very ambitious in trying to show people the benefits of healthy organic food. The main concept of our company is conscious consumption and holistic nutrition. We started our business with door-to-door delivery of organic boxes of fresh and organic food produced by local farmers. Later, we decided to create a value chain up to the final product to ensure that we offered purely organic food. So we created EcoFarm, where we plant vegetables and berries and grow almost all types of fruit trees.
E-commerce tools for organic groceries
The Jamilya team first benefited from the advisory services of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) before the pandemic, in 2019. The company managed to improve its performance in the market by developing a customer relationship management (CRM) program, installed with the help of Advice for Small Businesses, supported by the European Union.
Later, during the Covid-19 shutdowns of 2020, the system helped EcoFarm reach customers and promote online delivery of eco-friendly groceries. It has boosted business turnover and increased labor productivity by almost 50%.
The small business advice then helped EcoFarm develop a franchise strategy in 2020-21. The EBRD associated the company with a consultant who advised it to share its experience and develop long-term relationships with local and foreign franchisees. Within a year, EcoFarm had sold a franchise, which operates in the southern part of the capital, Bishkek.
Recently, however, EcoFarm decided to change its structure, closing two offline stores in order to focus on the development of an online store, as well as shop-in-shop concept stores in popular hypermarket chains such as Frunze and Globus.
“Unfortunately, we were denied the concept of having our own franchises, even though we had three offline stores and one online,” says Jamilya. “It was not economically viable to support our own franchise chain, but we are proud of the experience.”
EcoFarm now offers a full range of organic products in major hypermarkets and is focusing more on organic food processing and production. It sounds like a win-win concept; EcoFarm obtains a large flow of customers and the hypermarkets can offer a range of organic products. The company also offers catering services, organizes nutrition seminars and organizes outdoor activities, such as picnics or yoga classes, at its eco-farm in the village of Baitik, near Bishkek.
“Our mission is to provide consumers with all the great taste of our life-saving foods and to support small-scale farmers,” says Jamilya. “I’m really happy that my work has allowed me to both follow this passion and build an inspiring company.”