East African Tanneries Explore New Opportunities in Viet Nam

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  • SITA facilitated the participation of nine tanneries from Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda in the International Shoes and Leather Exhibition, which took place in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from 10 to 12 July 2019.
  •  The tanners managed to generate confirmed orders amounting to $203, 500; over $300,000 of additional orders are currently under negotiation; despite challenging market conditions and buyers’ unfamiliarity with East African leather.
  • The tanners gained exposure to new markets; and recognized the importance of value-addition for competiveness in the current global leather market.

SITA’s beneficiary tanneries have been on the road again. This time to the International Shoes and Leather Exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Held from 10 to 12 July 2019, Shoes & Leather Vietnam 2019 is Southeast Asia’s leading leather exhibition, hosting over 700 international exhibitors and attracting over 10,000 visitors. SITA facilitated the participation of nine tanneries from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda with the objective of exposing them to new markets. Overall, the tanners managed to generate confirmed orders totalling to $203, 500, with an additional $374,500 currently under negotiation.

The tanneries that formed SITA’s delegation included two that had achieved Leather Working Group[1] silver ratings as well as two newcomers from Ethiopia and Kenya. A visit to the SITA booth at the APLF in Hong Kong earlier this year had sparked the interest of the newcomers, and both had taken the requisite steps to align their activities with SITA’s priorities.   

SITA organized its first delegation to Shoes & Leather Vietnam for many reasons. These included Vietnam’s growing importance as manufacturing hub for footwear and leather goods; the success of  participation in trade fairs in India and China; the continuous improvement of the quality of East African leather; as well as a keen interest on the part of the tanners themselves to expand their global networks.

Business-to-business meetings in progress.

It is never easy being the newcomer at a trade fair. While curious about the East African products, for many buyers, trust has to be built through repeated appearances at the same trade fair. Even so, the SITA booth attracted a fair number of visitors including a number of Indian companies familiar with SITA’s activities and East African leather..  The Tanners’  displayed  products, ranging  from wet blue through to crust and finished leather; all in line with international quality standards The tanners were particularly impressed with the relative absence of bargaining on prices. Mr. Mohamed Abukar, Managing Director of Mas Tannery reflected, “The fair is quite good. I didn’t expect it to be like this. I thought buyers would try to push the price down but people here agree with the proposed price. I hope to have my own stand here next year because I get a very different exposure to markets.” Some tanners also recognized the importance of value-addition especially in current challenging market conditions. In the words of Mr Nelson Agaba, Director of Leather Industries of Uganda, an LWG


[1]   The Leather Working Group (LWG) is a multi-stakeholder group which develops and maintains a protocol that assesses the environmental compliance and performance capabilities of leather manufacturers and promotes sustainable and appropriate environmental business practices within the leather industry. LWG contributes to Sustainable Development Goals 3, 6, 12, 13, 14 and 17.

 For more information, please visit the LWG website: https://www.leatherworkinggroup.com/who-we-are/about-us

Voices of SITA
Voices of SITA
This blog provides a window into the SITA project. Through stories from India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, this blog showcases the project’s progress and impact.