Leather makers are urging the government to set up a hub to help small-scale artisans improve their skills, in a bid to start producing better quality products for the international market.

The manufacturers said the proposed Nairobi Leather Centre will improve makers through training, which will not only enable them to manufacture high quality leather products but also to regulate the standards of local goods.

The lack of skills beyond basic production has been decried by industry players for some time now, stating that not having the expertise to produce finished leather means they miss out on access to the international market.

“A modern accessible leather hub will help set the standards and market our products. People will know where to get the materials and finished products,” said Patricia Mwende of the Kariokor Syiondo Women JuaKali Association. She also stated that the hub will be an upgrade on the current Kariokor market, which is currently the country’s most popular location for local leather products such as shoes and sandals.

The fact they lack a standards regulator for locally-made leather products has meant a struggle against imports from Asia, say the top industry players.

At the beginning of the year the Kenya Leather Development Council announced that the mismanagement of slaughter houses up and down the country led to poor quality skins being produced locally.

Despite Kenya’s rich potential in the leather industry, many leather processing firms have opted to import their leather as a result of the aforementioned poor quality in locally produced hides.