From August 21-23, the Hub supported key decision makers from Kenya’s leather industry to participate in an exposure visit to Ethiopia. The visit provided the Kenyan delegation with key insights into how Ethiopia has been able to successfully grow its leather value chain; namely, the Ethiopian government gives priority to the leather sector when it comes to access to land, finance, labor and market.
The Hub’s grantee IL&FS Cluster Development Initiative India (ILFS) organized the visit in collaboration with COMESA Leather and Leather Products Institute. The two Hub grantees drafted a document that compares Ethiopian best practices with current Kenyan practices. They will present this document to leather stakeholders in Kenya as a means to promote a growth environment for Kenya’s leather sector.
“This was the first time for me to undertake such a benchmarking visit. I am going back to Kenya as a knowledgeable person. It was great to see how institutions focused on the leather sector come together and develop synergies for success. The benchmarking tour has been a useful learning exercise and a practical experience of a successful case study that is the Leather sector in Ethiopia. It will clearly form the basis for us in Kenya to develop a specific action plan that should help our leather sector move forward. I thank the Hub for this opportunity,” said Dr. Arthur Onyuka KIRDI
“I am happy to have participated in this exposure visit. We have indeed witnessed the transformative impact of Ethiopia’s public policy in the growth of their leather and footwear industry. It makes good sense for Kenya and East Africa region to learn from Ethiopia and support indigenous SMEs to first service local and international markets,” said George Gachara from Heva Fund.
Ethiopia's leather sector has grown considerably since the country invested in support institutions for improved designs, production, training, marketing and quality control. The government, in partnership with the private sector, is also working to secure market access and financing opportunities for local industry, and to attract foreign direct investment that will boost overall sector productivity.
“We are happy to collaborate more with Kenyan leather stakeholders and formalize a relationship where we can partner in skill development and technology transfer in the leather sector,” said Benyan Mesgina, Trade and Investment Promotion Directorate Director, Ethiopian Chamber Commerce and Sectorial Associations.
The Hub supported the exposure visit though its grant to ILFS, which is implementing the Kenya Leather Industry Development Program (KLIDP) to benchmark leather clusters and facilitate learning from best practices. KLIDP is a capacity building program for the leather sector aimed at improving skill development with an ultimate goal of increasing competitiveness of the leather products being made for export and attract investment into the sector. With the development of the Kenya Leather Park it is expected that by 2020 an estimate workforce of more than 50,000 will be needed, investors are keen to ensure there is adequate skilled labor before making their investment.