16 January 2013

Namibia: Project Struggling to Secure Market Share

Rehoboth — The Dune Tannery, a small-scale project run mainly by women in the Hardap Region is struggling to attract customers for its leather products.

The Duineveld Dune Tannery, a community-run and managed project, is located in the Duineveld settlement in the Rehoboth Rural Constituency in the Hardap Region.

Most of the tannery's products are sold in roadside stalls along the B1 road - 4km north of Mariental. The B1 road is one of the most important roads in Namibia, passing through the centre of the country in a north-south direction.

The project employs five permanent staff members, as well as 20 casual workers. The N$1.7 million (US$200 000) tannery was set up with funds from the Spanish government, under the aegis of the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture in 2004.

Unfortunately, the project has not taken off as expected and is finding it tough to sell its products, which are made out of the skins of goats, springbok, sheep, jackal and wildcats.

The treasurer of the tannery, Sonia de Klerk, says the main challenge is the inability to lure clients to buy its handcrafted leather products. She says reliable transportation, proper management and marketing are additional challenges facing the project.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has been tasked to oversee the utilization of the funds on behalf of the Spanish government. De Klerk believes customers want a one-stop shop for its exclusive range of traditionally crafted leather products and is inviting potential partners or sponsors to realize that goal.

"The dream of turning the tannery into a fully fledged profit-making venture could be achieved if we embark on an aggressive marketing drive to attract more clients locally and internationally for our products," said De Klerk.

"It is regrettable that motorists and people travelling along the main road do not have an idea of what we are offering and simply drive through without stopping to make enquiries. We need some serious marketing," she said.

De Klerk said they have used part of the funding to build a factory building at Duineveld, which will be inaugurated in February. "We are confident that once this factory is fully operational we will manage to attract clients both locally and internationally," she said.

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