Leather and Leather Products Institute

Member of: IULTCS    International Council of Tanners    

Leather for Health, Wealth and Luxury

Republic of Burundi: COMESA/LLPI Experts Team Mission

The COMESA-Leather and Leather Products Institute’s Experts Team, led by the Institute’s Executive Director, Prof. Mwinyikione Mwinyihija, and composed of the Institute’s Leather Value Chain Expert Prof Mekonnen Hailemariam  and Cluster Expert, Mr. Nicholas Mudungwe was on Mission to the Republic of Burundi from November 27 to May 2  2016.

The purpose of the Mission was to conduct a training course in “Governance, Cluster Implementation Procedures and Administration”  to SMEs working in leather footwear and leather goods manufacturing, and to discuss with the officials and concerned stakeholders on the best way forward for the  implementation of the National Leather Value Chain Strategy and Training Programs in Leather Technology. It is to be recalled that both the Strategy and training programs development was fully sponsored by COMESA/LLPI and finalized and submitted in 2015.

The Experts Team conducted a three day training in “Governance, Cluster Implementation Procedures and Administration  to 20 SMEs working in leather sector and 7 participants from the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Posts and Tourisme at Royal Palace Hotel, Bujumbura. The training topics encompassed designing incubation frameworks for SMEs, Cluster Governance, Cluster business and action plans and administration.

The Expert Team was also received by the Permanent Secretaries  of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Posts and Tourisme and Ministry of Education;  Assistant to the Minister of the Ministry of Public Service, labour and Employment, and Chief of Protocol of the President’s Office to discuss on the best way forward for the Burundi Leather Value Chain Strategy implementation and ways and means of the starting of the Vocational and Diploma level Training programs in leather technology. The government is planning to collaborate with LLPI to train around 600 youth in skills that will improve their livelihoods. The two parties (the Government and COMESA/LLPI) will further discuss on ways and means of imparting leather related skills to the youth.

It is pertinent to note that the message of promoting value addition as a mechanism of unleashing value in the leather sector in the COMESA region that COMESA/LLPI has been spearheading is starting to bear fruits in Burundi. In 2013, COMESA/LLPI held a regional workshop in Addis in partnership with UNCTAD. The theme of the workshop was promoting intra trade in value added products. Among many participants, there was Mr. Bede Bedetse, who is the owner of Afritan tannery in Bujumbura, Burundi. For many years he was focusing on the production and export of wet blue, however the message on promoting the production of value added products, hit him hard and he quickly decided to upgrade his tannery to a leather finishing stage. Three years down the line some of his leather is being used in footwear production in Burundi and the region. However, the zenith of his success, three years down the line has been marked by manufacturing upholstery leather, which has now replaced synthetics in the manufacturing of furniture in Burundi. This is historical, and COMESA/LLPI team and trainees took time to visit a shop where some of the sofas made from finished leather from Afritan, were on display. In the picture below , Professor Mwinyihija, congratulated Mr. Bede Bedetse on his milestone achievement, which is set to motivate other tanneries in the COMESA region to emulate this.

The Experts Team mission was successfully completed with issuance of certificates to trainees and fruitful discussions with concerned Ministries on the way forward for the implementation of the vocational and diploma level curricula and national leather value chain strategy. See picture below some of the participants showing off their certificates.

Some of the quotes, which were captured during the training, are as follows:

Mr. Gedeor King Nduwimana  – President of the Association of Footwear Artisans in Burundi “ This cannot end without me acknowledging the importance of the three days to our business operations; we were working in isolation for many years and we have not developed by an inch; this training has transformed our mind sets by demonstrating the importance of clustering; the concept of clustering has been well presented to us, and it is now very clear in our minds that joint collaboration will enhance our business operations and competitiveness and the future will not be the same”

Mr. Zepherin Nsahimana, the Secretary General of the Association of Footwear Artisan in Burundi “ The training has allowed us to see far ahead we are more informed and we are ready to take the challenge”

Ms. Kauziza Alda Pamela “These three days were very useful, we have leant a lot, and what we can only say is thank you to COMESA/LLPI, and we are ready to transform our operations”


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