AJE: Peru’s quiet family business takes on foreign markets

http://filer.livinginperu.com/business/aje-products.JPG900675AJE: Peru's quiet family business takes on foreign markets
AJE’s signature products.  click to see larger image

By 1994 the family had plants in twelve cities, and in 1997 they entered Lima. Then came the pivotal moment when they entered foreign markets.  In 1999 they started business in Venezuela and in 2002 they entered Mexico, the second largest soft drink market in the world. Four years later the company reached the shores of Thailand, installing a plant and selling their international brand Big Kola. Currently their eyes lie on expanding to China and Brazil.

The key to their success lies in their vision and market strategy. AJE is not concerned about being the number one soft drink in any of the markets they operate in. In fact, they are content with 15 to 20 percent of market share. Their aim is to provide inexpensive, quality products to consumers. And so far it’s going well for them.

AJE: Peru's quiet family business takes on foreign marketsAJE Group seems not to forget their humble background while maintaining their family business spirit. As for many big local companies, it is not all about making profit. In the beginning years of their operations in Sullana, a northern coastal city, the family opened health posts for local families and provided ambulance services. Now, the family has created the Añaños Foundation that focuses on social development issues, such as entrepreneur and microbusiness capacity building workshops and conferences. The foundation also works closely with microfinance institutions to help rural microbusinesses. Angel Añaños, President of AJE Group, is now coming out of his low profile policy to give workshops and talks on leadership and personal development to businesses, entrepreneurs and university students.

AJE: Peru's quiet family business takes on foreign markets
An AJE plant.

In addition, the company and the foundation are concerned about the natural environment, especially in rural areas. They have plastic bottle pick programs in five provinces. Their Sullana plant recycles water to use for their mango and lemon plantations. Furthermore, in certain parts of the country they provide seeds and agricultural capacity building to farmers to improve their peach production. The peach producers also benefit because the Group buys their produce. (However, there is no exclusivity to the farmers selling their peaches to the AJE, leaving them open to decide to who they want to sell their produce to.)

AJE Group still doesn’t have an internal social corporate responsibility policy — something common among family businesses and more so in Peruvian companies. But the family acknowledges that helping the community and improving human capital is not only a benefit to them (training entrepreneurs can become good suppliers, for example), but as a benefit to the country as a whole. In time, like many Peruvian companies, they plan to incorporate this strategy into their internal policy, making their company grow as well as Peru.

AJE Group is a successful international family business that maintains their humble spirit and commitment. They keep growing and making profit and also to give back to their community and country. In the coming years, Peruvian companies will face severe challenges, not only to globalize their business, but also to maintain competitive in their home country considering the coming free trade agreements. It is clear that AJE Group has enough experience to face the upcoming challenges.