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Development - Italy to continue funding UNIDO’s work with small leather companies in Ethiopia
23 January 2017

The Italian government has signed an agreement with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to fund the second part of a programme to help small and micro-businesses in the footwear and leathergoods sectors in Ethiopia. Report by Leatherbiz.

Working with UNIDO, the Italian government’s overseas aid and development agency (AICS) began its support of small companies devoted to making shoes and leathergoods in 2014. It focused on artisan manufacturers in the Merkato, Yeka and Kirkis districts of Addis Ababa.

In total, 377 companies, collectively employing 4,000 people availed themselves of help from UNIDO to learn about leather-buying, production strategies and marketing. Some of the business people involved also had the opportunity to travel to Italy to see leather being made in Santa Croce sull’Arno and footwear production in Vigevano.

Between the start of the UNIDO project and the end of 2016, the companies involved had created more than 500 new jobs, their finished footwear output had increased by 30%, while those devoted to bags had increased production by 60%. They were making twice as many belts as before and their purse production was 20 times greater.

In October, AICS director Laura Frigenti visited Addis Ababa to review some of the progress for herself. In December, Italy’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Giuseppe Mistretta, signed the new agreement with UNIDO, committing additional funding of €2.8 million for the organisation’s work with small leather-sector manufacturers in Ethiopia to continue.