For the last 50 years, Sobi products have been etched into the fabric of Zambian lives. The company has been at the center of Zambia’s economic growth, developing products that are staples in Zambian homes and schools. Sobi Industries is an integrated paper company that produces a wide range of paper products from notebooks, office paper, packaging products, home tissues, and hygiene tissues.
The Sobi journey started in 1972 with the conversion of raw materials into paper bags and toilet tissue. Over the following decade, the company expanded the range of tissue products and ventured into the manufacturing of school books on a smaller scale in the 1980s. The 90s were characterized by the liberalization of the economy which presented opportunities for growth for many Zambian businesses. Sobi took advantage by scaling up the production of books and also ventured into the production of plastic packaging and flexible packaging.
Sobi’s products directly contribute to economic growth. The books are used by millions of children and adults in schools and workplaces. Similarly, Sobi hygiene products are trusted in Zambian homes for their quality, availability and affordability. Zambians will recognise brands such as Softex, Sofia, Super Saver and Charm which are part of the Sobi product portfolio. These products are designed to serve the needs of customers in different market segments, a strategy that is core to Sobi’s mission to bring the highest quality paper products to everyone no matter the size of their budget.
The success of Sobi can be credited to focusing on the core products while strategically expanding their product range and maintaining quality standards throughout the whole process. The company has been consistent with increasing the quality of products and also responding to the needs of the people. This is evident with the tissue paper Charm, which is made of recycled material and produced at a low cost. This low cost is passed on to the consumer resulting in an affordable product that is accessible to lower income households.
Sobi continues to innovate and the company recently established a new business division called Flexi Pack which is an expansion of the current plastic production division. With the mission to “convert vision into value,” Flexi Pack is a business-to-business operation that aims to provide manufacturers with packaging products. The new division has been propelled by increased investment in new state of the art machinery used for printing, converting and bag making.
Sustainability is built into the strategy of Flexipack. The business recycles waste materials into plastic granules which are converted into packing material. Apart from that, Flexipack purchases plastic granules both locally and internationally and converts these into finished products sold to other businesses. The coming of Flexipack will reduce costs of production for manufacturers and businesses by providing a local source of raw materials instead of buying these inputs internationally.
Apart from producing paper products, Sobi’s ownership group has expanded into food production through a sister company called Amigo Foods which is behind classic snacks such as Cheese Curls, Amigo Classic Crisps and Munchos. Established in 1999, Amigo Foods has contributed to the health of the nation by producing snacks using high quality ingredients and world class food production technology.
Across their various businesses, the group employs 1,000 people who have increased their knowledge base, developed their professional skills and improved their lives with support from Sobi. Millions of Zambians have been impacted directly and indirectly by Sobi Industries products over the last 50 years. The company motto – Build Zambia, Buy Zambian – perfectly encapsulates what Sobi stands for as a locally owned and managed company. Looking to the future, Sobi hopes to continue in the spirit of product and business innovation and continues to support the economic ambitions of the country that it calls home.