By Vandana Prakash Nair
SITA led a delegation of East African tanneries to the India International Leather Fair (IILF) 2019 held in Chennai from 1st to 3rd February. Organised annually by the India Trade Promotion Organisation in association with the Council for Leather Exports (CLE), IILF is widely considered a key event for the global leather industry, hosting over 450 Indian and international exhibitors at the Chennai Trade Centre.
While this is the third consecutive year in which SITA has participated in IILF, it was the first time that an Ethiopian tannery joined the delegation. Nine other delegates represented tanneries from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. In fact, three more tanneries joined the delegation this year, demonstrating the value of SITA’s work in facilitating participation in international trade fairs for exposure to international markets.
At IILF 2019, the delegates displayed their products at a strategically located booth in the convention centre, which the SITA team specially designed so that they would have enough space and privacy to conduct business meetings with existing and potential customers. Commenting on the booth, a SITA supported delegate, Mr. Umashankar Loganthan, Managing Director of Leatherland, Uganda said, ‘The booth has given us some space for privacy. By maintaining the booth in the same place as last year, it is easy for customers to find us.’
Indeed, SITA’s booth attracted quite a lot of attention, and not just for reasons of design and location; SITA’s consistent participation in the IILF has raised the profile of East African tanneries, drawing attention to the improvement in the quality of leather produced by the East African tanneries. Due to SITA’s interventions, some of the tanners have even upgraded from producing wet-blue to crust making, which is an important step up the leather value chain.
One of the many visitors to SITA’s booth, Mr. Bogale Feleke Temesgen, former State Minister of Industry, currently Director General of the Ethiopian Leather Industry Development Institute, said, ‘I am very pleased to see Ethiopia among the participating countries in this fair. Next year, we will make sure that more tanneries represent our country here.’
The delegation also participated in the Buyers-Sellers Source Meet, a B2B meeting, organised by CLE which was held at ITC Grand Chola, Chennai on 1st February. Nearly 25 international suppliers of semi-finished and finished leather from 11 countries engaged with Indian and international buyers at the meeting, providing the East African tanners with an additional opportunity to meet potential customers, build business linkages, and expose their products to new markets.
The delegation spent a fruitful three days in Chennai. So much so that SITA is happy to report that despite challenges in the global leather market, the East African delegates confirmed thrice as many orders as last year, with further orders still under negotiation. Suffice to say, we are looking forward to IILF 2020!