Local patronage to boost footwear production, leather industry’
According to Faleti, the shoe-making business, which once made Nigeria an African destination for footwear buyers, is being asphyxiated by poor infrastructure, low patronage and unhealthy imports from Asia and nearby countries.
Faleti, whose company benefitted from the Bank of Industry’s (BoI) Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund (GEF) said his firm was able to survive some of the challenges of entrepreneurship through the fund, adding that there is a need to support local producers through patronage.
“Local producers can improve their capacity and designs if supported by various stakeholders and consumers in the country. Minuel Faleti Designs are makers of classic made-in-Nigeria bespoke shoes with materials locally sourced from the best tannery in Kano where popular world designers come to buy their leathers.
“I ventured into the business due to passion to create hand-made shoes and generate employment in the country considering the high level of unemployment among youths. With the support of BoI under the GEF scheme, we have been able to develop our capacity, employed more hands and procured new machines to improve our production efficiency. However, the success recorded can only be sustained with continued patronage and support from consumers. Our goal is to produce locally-made shoes that will compete favourably with foreign substitutes”, he added.
Indeed, stakeholders in the industry had attributed the decline in the shoe-making business to lack of basic infrastructure to push the trade, while low consumption of locally manufactured goods by government and its agencies as well as inadequate protectionist policies continue to make doing business in the country difficult.
According to them made-in-Nigeria products lack acceptability in the local markets even when the capacity of the industry has improved.The Acting Managing Director of BoI, Waheed Olagunju explained that the Bank’s funding initiatives go beyond funding but also committed to mentoring and handholding young entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses that will create jobs and improve the economy.