The Lagos Leather Fair is an annual retail showcase with the main purpose of creating awareness of the potential value of the leather industry in Nigeria. This platform was founded by Femi Olayebi who is also the founder and creative director of popular fashion brand, Femi Handbags.
Yesterday marked the first day of the virtual Lagos Leather Fair 2020 event and it came with a bang. With various industry experts sharing their takes regarding the Nigerian Leather industry, there was a lot to be gained. Here are some of the takeaways from the event.
Where Is The Leather Industry Headed?
This fair started with a serious conversation with industry experts such as Adeyinka Abimbola, Wilson Erumebor, Toyin Adeniji and the founder of the Lagos Leather Fair herself, Femi Olayebi. The Nigerian Leather Industry is the second major earner of foreign exchange after oil, as it contributes about 25% of the total agricultural Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
“We are yet to scratch the surface of the leather industry in Nigeria. It is a very large industry and can still be larger.” – Abimbola Adeyinka.
“The Leather Industry in Nigeria is quite huge and one of the key industries that has the potential to create jobs and lift people out of poverty. As a country, we need to diversify and think away from exporting crude oil alone.” – Wilson Erumebor.
However, with the numerous opportunities the industry holds, there are still a lot of setbacks that discourage small to medium scale entrepreneurs from delving into the industry.
Just like Abimbola Adeyinka shared, several factors are responsible for the stunted growth of Nigeria’s leather industry and the slow death of the tanneries as well. These factors include;
Most times, moving the animal skin or hide from the point where they are slaughtered to the point where they are processed is usually strenuous. Due to poor road networks, most suppliers cannot get the hides to the tanneries, and this, in turn, leads to a drop in the supply for good quality leather.
Method Of Preservation:
Tanneries are places where animal skins or hides are processed and preserved. The process of tanning hides into leather is one that requires certain structures and implements, which have deteriorated over the years in Nigeria. Like Abimbola Adeyinka shared with us, the number of functional tanneries in Nigeria, which are substandard even, keeps dropping drastically with each passing year.
Some of the factors that also affect the availability of these good quality leather are the power factor, human resources, and many more.
So how can these problems be tackled to move forward?
Toyin Adeniji and Femi Olayebi shared their two cents on this, as they highlighted the fact that creating an environment for international investors to bring money and support the entrepreneurs in the leather industry would go a long way.
“We need to deconstruct the entire sector and rebuild it. While also continuing the conversation regarding the growth of the Nigerian Leather Industry, we also need to be taking actionable steps.”
According to Abimbola Adeyinka, there also needs to be a system in place to support the business dynamics.
What does this mean?
With better road networks, transportation facilities, basic structures and implementations as well as tax support, the Nigerian leather industry is set to grow in leaps and bounds.
In closing, Femi Olayebi said,
“We have to be intentional about moving forward. This platform was created to bring together under one roof key players in the leather industry. I wanted to be able to use my voice and be part of the solution.”
The Lagos Leather Fair 2020 continues today with different speakers from all over the world including Laduma, Fisayo Longe and many others.