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Chingola Leather cluster set to boost livelihoods

August 11, 2017

Self-help groups in Chingola have embraced the initiative to diversify Zambia’s economy by partnering with Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) in a project aimed at producing leather products to boost household incomes.

The Chingola Leather Cluster, a part of the Copperbelt Leather Industry Cluster (CLIC), commenced production of leather products in April 2017, courtesy of Konkola Copper Mines, which provided a grant for training and equipment purchases. The CLIC aims to grow a high-quality leather industry in the region by supplying entrepreneurs with access to materials, training and market linkages.

A total of 23 entrepreneurs from various communities and markets in Chingola have been provided with formal training for basic skills they need to make leather products, including industrial gloves, shoes, belts and aprons which will be purchased by KCM, among others.

The pioneer of the CLIC, Preston Viswamo, describes the initiative as a ‘life changer.’
“Those that have worked within the leather cluster have appreciated the skills they have been taught and are earning incomes from their labour. People that did not have jobs after dropping out of school are able to feed their families from the income they earn,” Mr. Viswamo said.

“It is a life changer and we expect to see tremendous changes in the lives of these people.”
Agnes Mutale, 21, completed her secondary education at a local school in Chingola, a town in Zambia’s Copperbelt Province, in 2015. She was raised by her grandparents after losing both parents before she turned two years old.

“My biggest dream is to become a lawyer and my work with the KCM-supported Copperbelt Leather Cluster Industry (CLIC) is helping me to fulfill that dream,” she says confidently.

The project aims to benefit about 400 households and eventually as many as 2,400 people from 20 self-help groups in Chingola, Chililabombwe and Kitwe, in particular women, shoe makers, cobblers and youth, including school dropouts.

Chingola Municipal Council Deputy Mayor George Kampamba, hailed KCM’s efforts to uplift local communities and for assisting with alternative employment creation and poverty reduction amongst women and youths.

“Projects like this one provide the much needed employment for our youths, the majority of our country’s population,” Mr Kampamba said. “With initiatives like leather clusters, young people will learn skills that they can use to earn a living and become entrepreneurs.”

Through the Copperbelt Leather Industry Cluster Project, KCM aims to harness the great potential to transform the livelihoods of community members through enterprise.