ALBIE Oberholzer, a Belfast-based entrepreneur, launched Zimbabwean-made Dr Trouble, to the UK and US markets this year and the brand is so popular that the shipping containers can’t arrive fast enough to meet online demand, as foodies all over the UK and US look for something to spice up their ‘working from home’ lunches.
Leaving his native Zimbabwe in 2018 to resettle in Northern Ireland with his young family, Albie continues to work with his Zimbabwe-based business partner and founder of Dr Trouble, Rob Fletcher, who oversees the artisan production of the high-quality, all-natural chilli sauce range on his farm in the Upper Zambezi valley.
The recipe was discovered in Rob’s great-grandfather’s 125-year-old journal and the business partners and friends realised that the sauce could rival any other on the market.
Production started, employing local villagers to hand-produce the two sauces using organic ingredients including lemons and chillies, gathered from remote villages close to the farm.
Launching in the UK in July this year, in the middle of the global pandemic, proceeds of each bottle are returned to these rural communities to support education and conservation initiatives.
“Moving from Zimbabwe and building this business from my new Northern Ireland base has given us and the communities back in Zimbabwe such a fantastic opportunity,” said Albie.
“Both sauces – our Chilli and Lemon and our Smoked Chilli sauce are produced by remote communities who have very little. It is a lifeline to them, and Rob and I are very pleased to be giving something back to them, from the success we are seeing both in the UK and the US.
“This way of working, putting a remote community at the heart of the business, was key to us. As consumers become increasingly more discerning about the brands they support, we can categorically say that when you purchase a Dr Trouble sauce, it directly helps to support the survival of these rural and remote village communities in Zimbabwe, which means an awful lot to Rob and me.”
There are other initiatives carried out by Dr Trouble in the surrounding area, including anti-poaching patrols and conservation programs for the local wildlife and the Little Peppers project which has been running for two years, paying for school fees and essential supplies for 150 local village children who would otherwise be denied an education.
Albie’s previous experience in FMCG brand development is now diverted into many businesses from his new base, including the launch of the Belfast Coffee brand earlier this year. He credits Invest NI as a crucial aide in setting up his businesses.
“The advice, knowledge and introduction to key networks and likeminded individuals has been a great catalyst to getting started”
“Being based in Northern Ireland provides fantastic distribution, supply and marketing opportunities, which mean we can grow the Dr Trouble brand across several markets.
“We have been blown away by how well received it has been, both in the UK and the US.
“The combination of the attitudes that consumers are now displaying about socially responsible products and people reigniting their love for home-cooking during the pandemic, has meant that the foodie community has really taken Dr Trouble to its heart.
“Sales have increased by 800% since launch and Albie and Rob are now considering expansion into other European countries and Australia.
“This year has seen so many ups and downs for businesses across Northern Ireland – impacting revenue, making logistics more complicated but we’re confident in our business and the taste and quality of the sauces.
“With lots in the pipeline including new product development, we are looking to increase our independent stockists across the UK in 2021 so our product is more widely available to consumers. All in all, it should be a very exciting year for Dr Trouble.” says Albie.
Dr Trouble sauces are available in two flavours, Oak Smoked Chilli and African Lemon Chilli – available on Amazon or the Dr Trouble website www.drtroublesauce.co.uk, for £7.95 for 125ml, or £10.95 for 250ml. – Newsletter ■