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Manufacturers Support State Ban on Shoe Importation

A local footwear company has welcomed the government’s plan to ban importation of leather products in the next two years in a bid to revitalise the leather chain and protect local industries.

President Dr. William Ruto announced in June, while in Kajiado, that the government has allocated Sh2 billion for the treatment of hides to improve quality.

The move comes in the wake of cheap imports from foreign countries that have proliferated local markets.

“They supply a lot of shoddy stuff here and the poor customer has to buy because the overall cost is cheaper than what you can manufacture locally. When you see the product itself in the shop, it is cheaper than even our production cost of the whole thing, so how does that work? It is just baffling, but then we are at the mercy of the customers,” said Dilip Shah, Founder and Chairman of Umoja Shoes Kenya Limited.

The company, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary, has pledged to continue manufacturing the best-quality shoes within its price range.

“Our industry has grown to this magnitude by introducing leather shoes, safety shoes, and military boots, which are well recognised within our government. Our quality is very good, and our standards are very nice,” said Shah.

Umoja Shoes Managing Director Ehsan Zaman revealed that they mitigate the high cost of their products by manufacturing large volumes.

The MD urged local institutions to support local industries to grow by buying locally manufactured goods and to make timely payments after supply, not to halt production.

“If that support is given, we have the technology and the capability to produce large volumes of shoes for various government institutions,” he said.

He went on: “All our shoes are produced in-house. We do export a significant volume to our neighbouring countries, including Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and even Congo.

The MD challenged farmers to practise organised farming to supply shoe manufacturers with high-quality leather at competitive prices. The company procures most of its textiles locally.

The company has sought a new lease on life by rebranding, changing from Umoja Rubber Products to Umoja Shoe Company Limited. According to the MD, the move is aimed at increasing and inspiring their customer base.

The family company was started in 1978 by four brothers with 26 employees on Tangana Road, Mombasa, before relocating to Kikambala, Kilifi County, in 1993. The employees, mostly from the local communities, has since increased to 2200, producing 350,000 pairs of shoes daily.

In 2019, they ventured into retail business, and currently, they have 27 retail outlets spread across the country, employing over 150 people directly.

Source: Kenya News



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