How the high exchange rate boosts local leather production

With the campaign for more patronage for made in Nigeria products, many people have ventured into producing quality products such as garments, bags, shoes, etc. products in the near future.

NOTNigeria is one of Africa’s leading leather exporters. Kano is the biggest trading center for the leather industry in Nigeria, and the traditional tanneries of northern Nigeria are the oldest leather producers in the country.

The Nigerian leather industry has grown beyond anyone’s expectations. Leather is also known to be supplied by northern tanneries to well-known brands such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci.

According to export data, Italy and Spain are the top destinations for Nigerian leather imports, accounting for 71% of total exports. They mainly sell sheep leather, because sheep and lamb leather has significant export value in Asia.

Over the years, Nigerians have become accustomed to buying locally made products such as bags, shoes, furniture. Five or ten years ago, the story was not the same, because a lot of patronage went to imported products.

However, there has been a strong demand for locally produced products in the country. Apart from the improved quality appreciation, the increased value of foreign currency has compelled many Nigerians to patronize local brands.

Grace Ukpai, who spoke to Daily Trust on Sunday, said: “When the dollar was still $1 at N300/N350, I could afford to buy imported brands from other countries for my clients. Now with the current exchange rate I have started patronizing Nigerian brands and to my surprise the quality is top notch.

Another person, Elizabeth Ajunwa, mentions that the majority of the bags and shoes she owns are Nigerian brands. According to her, they are affordable and if properly maintained, these products actually last.

“I have a few bags and shoes that I bought from a Nigerian brand. To be honest, I started buying them because they were affordable compared to foreign brands. they were as good as foreign brands I would buy.

Haowa Bello is an entrepreneur who is dedicated to producing leather bags. She also runs a farm where leather is produced and used in making some of her handbags. In an interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, Haowa recounts that her sole purpose of going into leather bag production as a business was to change perspective and improve Nigerians’ confidence in locally made products.

“I created my company in 2008 out of passion. My mindset at the time was that I wanted to change the negative perspective that people had on products made in Nigeria. I started small and was consistent with my work.

Among all the materials used for the production of bags, Haowa explains its reason for indulging in the use of leather. She mentioned it; “Leather is a premium material derived from leather and animal skin. Other materials that can be used to produce handbags are much cheaper. Leather bags are renowned for their quality and longevity.

To start her business, she said it was not capital intensive as people expected and she used a small sum to start her business. “I remember starting my business with capital of N30,000 and from there I managed to grow the business organically”

“Most leather producers buy from local leather suppliers. For the bags we produce, we source from local suppliers and also import.

“We use a lot of calfskin, goatskin and sheepskin for most of our products. We use exotic skins like crocodile and ostrich leather for our premium range bags.

“Also, I like to tell people that good workmanship in leather products is judged based on the symmetry of the workmanship, stitching and finish,” she added.

According to Haowa, when producing with leather, the production cost can be relatively high due to the value of leather in the market. She states that; “Leather products are generally more expensive because they require more skill to make and the cost of leather is higher than other materials like canvas or synthetics”

Due to the type of leather used and the size of the bag produced, prices for bags produced by Haowa vary. His least bag is worth N42,000.

While talking about the patronage of locally made products, Haowa says she remains grateful for the large clientele she has been able to amass over the years.

She said, “Nigerians have embraced local fashion and strongly support local designers. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the support I have received from my fellow Nigerians.

Although Haowa can boast of having a successful business over the years, it also records some challenges it has faced over time. She noted that: “A major challenge for most local businesses is the volatility of commodity prices. It is difficult to predict future expenses and manage expenses properly. »

Haowa, who spoke on issues relating to women’s access to land, mentioned that lack of information is the reason why many women are unaware of the opportunities available to them when it comes to land. is to acquire land.

“There are initiatives for women to access such opportunities, but I have the impression that many women do not have the information. Access to the right information is essential.

However, with the increasing rate of insecurity in the country. Haowa expresses his gratitude by mentioning that the current insurgency in the country has in no way affected his farming business. “My business has not been directly affected by the insecurity. Nonetheless, we were able to provide proper security and were also fortunate to have the farm in a safe environment.

Talking about what it takes to be a farmer, Haowa explains this; “Farming is a lot of work. It takes patience, dedication and commitment. It’s rewarding but you have to invest. For animal husbandry, educate yourself on how to care for animals and hire a rotational veterinarian.

“You have to be creative about how to feed your animals because the cost of feed can cripple your business. The saying prevention is better than cure is most relevant in this sector.

Francis Ugor, another entrepreneur who produces bags and shoes, said the growth in the number of customers over the years has been tremendous. He describes the market growth as impressive.

“When I started my business, I used to beg people to patronize me, and they often complained about the quality of my products, saying they didn’t match foreign products. Now I’m so loaded with customer orders that I can’t even tell when I’m done. »

However, Francis says a major challenge he faces with the production is the fact that very few people really know the work. He explained that “people are always laid back when it comes to working with leather. Many of our artisans are unfamiliar with the proper equipment used in the production of bags and shoes. »