Leather manufacturers push for Nairobi training hub

Leather article makers have urged the government to set up a hub that will help small-scale artisans upgrade their skills with the aim of producing better quality products for the international market.

The manufacturers said the proposed leather centre to be located in Nairobi will enable artisans perfect their craft through trainings, manufacture high quality leather products and regulate the standards of local goods.

Industry players have previously decried lack of skills beyond the basic in production, low expertise to produce finished leather and access to international market as the biggest challenges to the growth of the industry.

“A modern accessible leather hub will help set the standards and market our products. People will know where to get the materials and finished products,” Patricia Mwende of Kariokor Syiondo Women JuaKali Association said yesterday. She added the hub will be an upgrade of the current Kariokor market which is the country’s popular point for local leather products like sandals and shoes made by small scale traders.

Ms Mwende, who has been in the business for more than 15 years, said the hub will boost others like her and increase their earnings.

The small scale traders spoke yesterday during a forum for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) at Strathmore University, where President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to outline the government’s plans for the sector today.

Industry players say lack of a standards regulator for locally-made leather products has hit their market competitiveness against imports from Asia.

In February, the Kenya Leather Development Council said that mismanagement of slaughter houses across the country had led to poor quality of skins produced locally.

Many leather processing firms have opted to import leather as a result of the poor quality in locally produced skins and hides, despite the country’s rich potential in the leather industry.