Kimanjo Women Tapping Wealth from the Multi-billion Dollar Leather Industry.
Last year, the global leather goods market was valued at Kshs. 43.5 trillion (USD 394.12 billion). It is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.9 percent in the next seven years.
Aware of how lucrative this industry is, a group of 16 women in Laikipia North is now making baby steps towards exploiting opportunities in the leather industry.
Laikipia North is a bedrock of the country’s pastoralism. There are lots of cattle slaughtered every week. Such being the case, people making leather products are at the advantage of having raw materials at their disposal.
The 16 women operating under the banner Kimanjo Women Leather make good use of the hides to become economically independent by producing hand-made leather products.
They specialize in making quality leather belts, handbags, leather shoes, wallets among other products from the same material.
The county government took them through several pieces of training to enable them to gain basic knowledge in tanning leather.
says Ms. Rebecca Santa, the assistant chief, Tura sub-location, and chairperson of the group.
Officers from the Agriculture department trained the women on using materials like ash, lemon, and wheat straw – the stalk left over after wheat grains are harvested – to do tanning.
Profits derived from the sale of leather products have improved the lives of individual group members economically.
One plain leather belt goes for Ksh. 400, while the one cladded with beads may cost up to Ksh. 1,500.
We have opened an account where we keep the money from the sales. We withdraw some of the money once a year and disburse it to members as loans for individual advancement. says the official.
The group gives out loans payable after three months at an interest rate of 10 percent, which is way below market rates.
Kimanjo Women Leather’s main market is from the locals. They sell at Kimanjo Market which operates fortnightly.
However, the group is confident that they will soon engage in mass production and expand their market.
The livestock market that Governor Ndiritu Muriithi opened in Kimanjo came as a relief to our struggles. We are now able to produce quality products with ease out many struggles as before. she commented to the group head.
The group which is registered is among over 1,500 MSMEs that the county government is handholding under the Laikipia Innovation and Enterprise Development Programme (LIEDP) to upscale their production.
The county’s strategy is to grow the county GDP from about Kshs 100 billion to Kshs 400 within the medium term among other areas steering a minimum of 5,000 Laikipia SMEs towards production and manufacturing to create more jobs and higher incomes.
About 200 members of staff have been purposed to support the SMEs through various aspects of business with the aim of increasing their productivity.
In partnership with several financial institutions, the county government has also created a Kshs 3.3 billion economic stimulus fund, aimed at cushioning businesses against the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.