The brand has released a weekly video series that shares the stories of Tractor Outdoor's 'SME Heroes' and how they managed to endure the pandemic. 

OkJa, one of the beneficiaries of Tractor Outdoor's fund, is a plant-based food and beverage business that was founded in 2019 by Rui Esteves and David Chait.

With its most popular product being oat milk, co-founder Chait says that OkJa was borne out of a desire to provide a more sustainable alternative to dairy, as well as the other dairy alternatives currently on offer.

"We are aiming to transform the landscape through offering an environmentally-responsible, plant-based option, which is great for adding to your cereal, foaming up and pouring into your coffee, or enjoying on its own," says Chait.

When the pandemic first hit South African shores earlier this year, OkJa's sales came to a halt. "Cafes and restaurants are our primary customers. With the announcement of lockdown, the hospitality industry was required to stop trading and one of our sales channels — the largest contributor to our monthly revenue — was effectively blocked," adds Chait.

As a company that is responsible for the employment of around 25 people, OkJa was forced to re-envision its business model. "We needed to shift our brand to become more consumer-facing so that people would readily recognise us, understand our value proposition and be driven to purchase our goods from grocery stores and other retail outlets," Chait says.

Chait says that he came across Tractor Outdoor's SME advertising fund on LinkedIn and he applied straight away.

Remi du Preez, commercial director at Tractor Outdoor, says, "SMEs are the backbone of our economy and we felt that it was our responsibility to assist companies that were struggling to manage their cash flow at a time when trade was restricted."

OkJa was selected as one of the fund's deserving beneficiaries, receiving R100 000's worth of free advertising in the form of digital billboards located at high-traffic sites across the country.

"As a relatively young company, this exposure helped us to build brand awareness through tapping into a market that we otherwise would not have been able to reach during lockdown," Chait says.

"We received fantastic feedback from consumers, many of whom sent us photos of our adverts on the billboards, and I believe that this exposure has contributed to us becoming a household name," concludes Chait.

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