The Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development (MoIED) has dedicated Sh120M for a common manufacturing facility for the Kariokor market leather products SME cluster. This facility is part of the Government’s efforts to support the leather industry. A Sh7B leather city in Machakos County is in the pipeline as the government moves to revive the industry by attracting local and foreign investors.
Kariokor has emerged as one the biggest leather products market in the East African region and is a natural cluster that has grown on its own in the last three decades. The market has over 200 stalls currently, employing up to 7,000 workers. It produces various products including shoes (1.7m), sandals (2.2m), belts (4.8m), wallets (3m), bags, bracelets and key holders.
Despite this, Kenya’s leather import takes up to 85 percent of supply leaving a domestic market with huge potential (in addition to increasing global market share). Furthermore, the leather cluster is struggling with poor production technology, low quality finished leather and access to markets.
The industry is also grappling with of quality control and quality management systems, production skills and high cost of credit. The Kariokor facility will enable the traders compete with other regional and global producers.
Specifically, it will have quality control labs and allow development of a branding and marketing system. In Kenya, 90 percent of the leather is exported in wet blue form, which is semi-processed leather. 80 percent of Kenyan land area is ideal for cattle production.
Leather production is thought to be an opportunity for wealth creation and commercialization especially for pastoralist communities. The Kenyan leather sector is already experiencing high growth at 10.3 percent and growing in varieties of leather production. The Government is coordinating with the security agencies to enforce procurement of locally made leather boots by the armed forces and police force.