The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THE Leather Institute of Zimbabwe (LIZ) has developed a quality certification and standardisation system for the leather value chain (LVC) and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) products, to ensure products developed locally meet global standards.
LIZ president Mr Cornelio Sunduza said the development was part of four of the five activities they have implemented as part of the Technical Assistant Fund (TAF) project. Zimbabwe was granted technical facility assistance by Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) funded under the 11 European Development Fund’s Regional Enterprises Competitiveness and Access to Markets Programme (Recamp) Technical Assistance facility.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the project between Comesa and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade was signed on 16 December 2022.
The Government then nominated the Leather Institute of Zimbabwe to implement the Technical assistant fund project by setting up the Satellite Leather Design Studio in Zimbabwe.
“LIZ has successfully implemented four of the five activities whose output was to upgrade the Leather Design studio and incubation centre at LIZ, as well as improve capacity to deliver technical and business services to the internal stakeholders. Among the activities, we have developed a quality certification and standardisation system for LVC and SMEs products. We have procured the computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD-CAM) software and associated equipment as well as tools for product design and prototyping.”
He said they have conducted a skills gap analysis within the value chain to ensure the right training is conducted on the right groups of SMEs/Artisans in Bulawayo and Harare. Mr Sunduza said they have developed the training curriculum and materials for three training thematic areas namely product, design and development; leather footwear and leather goods production technology and innovative entrepreneurship.
Mr Sunduza said the approved work plan for the project which was originally supposed to commence in June 2022 faced some administrative delays and commenced in June 2023, almost a year behind schedule and this necessitated speedy implementation of the activities.
The theme of the project is “Enhancing the Zimbabwe Leather sector SMEs competitiveness and market access through the implementation of the Leather Design studio and Business incubation center.”
The establishment of Zimbabwe’s first satellite design studio for leather products will position it for enhanced quality standards and scaling up sectoral output along the value chain.
This follows the establishment of the Regional Design Studio (RDS) in Ethiopia, which is a flagship project for the Africa Leather and Leather Products Institute (ALLPI) endorsed by the Council of Ministers Meeting in Madagascar in 2016.
According to ALLPI, the Satellite Design Studios in ALLPI member states will be linked to Regional Design Studio. Under Vision 2030, Zimbabwe is set to attain an upper-middle economy and the leather sector is among the key sectors earmarked for the transformation to drive the country towards the targeted status.
The revival of the leather sector is being guided by the Zimbabwe Leather sector strategy (2021-2030) developed with technical support from ALLPI and it was launched by Vice President Dr Chiwenga in July 2021.