May 21, 2024


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African Leather Gets a New Shine: SIPS Programme Sparks Innovation

Solidaridad is pleased to announce the implementation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Support to Industrialisation and Productive Sectors (SIPS) Programme. This five-year initiative, which commenced in 2019 and is coordinated by the SADC Secretariat, is financed to the tune of €18 million by the European Union under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF). As part of the broader SIPS Programme, we recognize the critical importance of enhancing the regional leather value chain in Africa, particularly in East and Southern Africa.

Under the auspices of SIPS, Solidaridad is implementing a 27-month project on promoting a competitive, inclusive and sustainable leather sector in Tanzania and Zimbabwe. This project aims at promoting green innovative solutions in the leather sector and creating market linkages for leather products at a domestic, regional and international level.

“Enhancing private sector participation in the regional leather value chain is a crucial step towards achieving sustainable industrialization and economic development in the SADC region. Through this project, we strive to build the capacities at SME tanneries to implement green tanning approaches, introduce new leather products, and digitally transfer technology to SMEs to improve their production as well as market linkages,” says Humphrey Nxumalo, Head of Programmes for Solidaridad Southern Africa.

According to Nxumalo, some of the success stories attained by this programme include, but are not limited to:

  • Improving the capability to design leather products through establishing Virtual Design Studios in Tanzania and Zimbabwe – for example, leather products that initially took a week to design can now be accomplished in an hour.
  • The introduction of green-tanning technologies which reduced the tanning process from one week to only one day, thereby promoting efficiency.
  • Exposure to international exhibitions has connected some SMEs to international markets and improved their sales.
  • SMEs attaining number one positions and winning awards at international trade fairs.
  • SMEs being awarded contracts to supply school shoes to retailers.

“Collaboration is key,” says Sikhulekile Ncube, Project Manager at Solidaridad. “We have collaborated with an assortment of industry stakeholders such as the government, Zim-Trade, Zimbabwe Leather Development Council, Bulawayo Leather Cluster, and local tanneries to deliver this project in Zimbabwe.” Godlove Nderingo, Senior Programme Manager (Tanzania) at Solidaridad reinforced the role that collaboration played in Tanzania. “We roped in various stakeholders to make this possible. They include the Leather Association of Tanzania, local government authorities, Small Industries Development Organization (SIDO), Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology, and local tanneries. We are committed to raising the horn of East and Southern Africa to propel the leather industry forward,” concludes Nderingo.

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