I have been trying to understand the supply chain basics of the leather insudtry in Kenya. Yes, very random, a not so exposed industry in the country. Not much information exists about this industry. I am interested in leather purely because i love fashion, i think shoes are pieces of art you can just stare at the workmanship all day, the cut of the design, the color, texture and the curve all day… mmmh i also love bags – the clutch, satchel, simple work bag, the detail in the finished pieces etc…i digress.

To get this information, i had to visit Kenya Industrial Research Development Institute (KIRDI) Not many have heard of it. Their work with leather is only in the treating and processing. They do not source neither to they sell leather. They sell services to leather industry stakeholders, carry out trainings and also make custom pieces only.

So the source is actually down at farm level, you buy raw hide from farmers/ranchers or slaughterhouses take it to KIRDI and request for the appripriate treatment and colouring- there are many different kinds just the way you have more than one flavour of icecream in your bowl. Once treated it is collected to sold to those who make leather accessories, shoes, bags and clothes  both locally and internationally.

Understanding the supply chain is key to helping you know how many middle men are in the pipeline before the product reaches you. I realised that through KIRDI i can get my custom pieces, have the leather treated in the way i would like and beinvolved in the whole process.

Does your supply chain behave in a way that you can make it work for you?