12 April 2018

Zimbabwe: Leather Design Lab for Bulawayo

The Leather Institute of Zimbabwe (LIZ) is in the process of setting up a $450 000 design studio to support skills development in the leather industry.

LIZ chairperson Cornelio Sunduza told Business Chronicle that there was critical need for human resources improvement and skills development if Zimbabwe's leather industry was to have a shot at recovery.

He said his organisation was mobilising resources to facilitate the setting up of a computer aided machinery and a pilot tannery as well as upgrading existing infrastructure.

"If we are to set up a design studio, we need to buy computer aided equipment and set up a pilot tannery. Our budget is about $450 000. I'm in talks with the finance institutions for funding. I have written to several banks CEOs and something will come out soon," said Mr Sunduza.

"We want to train tanneries, boost up production processes so that they can be able to take up the leather from the tanneries and improve product development and designing."

As such, he said LIZ was preparing to come up with a design studio where most of the students will be exposed to computer aided designing so as to improve the quality of the products.

"Human resources development is very critical at various levels. Trained people are able to conceptualise and interpret Government policy into action. Once you train people, they will direct their training into activities. We need new ideas and people with a different vision that will bring innovation," said Mr Sunduza.

The Leather Institute of Zimbabwe was formed to provide the necessary skills and expertise that will support the country's leather industry through training, research and identification of markets. The institution has been dormant due to lack of funding and support from leather industry players.

Mr Sunduza said the institute was re-launching itself and advertising its services beyond Bulawayo and that, as such, in the next three months there will be visible action on the ground. He said the institute will take up about 35 students per semester and also put them under an incubation programme for enterprise development in other provinces

"We have had challenges with the funding up until now that Homelink has funded us to start re-launches. Hopefully in the next three months, we should see ourselves launching the institute. We are launching the brand and the website and we have already paid for it. We are advertising the institute and going beyond Bulawayo.

We have also designed a programme to do online training in partnership with UNIDO," he said.

Leather industry players have in the past called for the recapitalisation of LIZ to bridge the skills gap and revive the country's leather industry.

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