Barely 20 years ago, you would be hard pressed to list Kenyan companies creating trendy leather bags. Fast forward to 2015 and the competition is intense and varied.
From well established medium sized companies to sole enterprises, there is an increasing number of designers entering the market hoping to capitalize on the lucrative sector.
A once thriving industry, it almost came to a standstill in the 90’s due to among other factors, the scraping of a 22% export compensation scheme, a move that was intentioned to provide increased markets for Kenya’s leather goods. The unexpected effect however, was the mass export of leather in its raw form. Infact by 2004, 80% of Kenya’s leather was exported as unprocessed hides and skins.
In a move to remedy the situation, the government in 2006 raised export tax payable on raw leather to 20%, and then doubled it to 40% the following year. The decision [which defied EU’s ideology on free trade] worked to favor the local industry, measured by an increase in tanneries, employment numbers and earnings.
More recently, the government through the Ministry of Industrialization has made concerted effort towards value addition. Processed leather goods earn up to 1000% more and present Kenya an opportunity to position herself as one of Africa’s leading suppliers of premium leather goods to the global market.
In listing these 5 bag companies, we are suggesting that indeed, local designers have what it takes to claim that position in the global supply chain.
Learn more about the individual brands by clicking on the name of the company.
COLOR ME BAD: AFRICAN LILY
ETHNIC ACCENTS: ADELE DEJAK
NO FRILLS: RIFT VALLEY LEATHER
BOHO CHIC: BUSH PRINCESS
BUILT TO LAST: ZINJ
[Image copyright belongs to individual companies. Additional facts and figures from African Business Magazine and weed-online.org: Developing the Leather Sector in Kenya]