The Lagos State Government has kicked off a three-day first Indigenous Leather Business to Business (B2B) Summit and Expo designed to reposition the leather industry by creating value as a strategy for awareness creation, customer acquisition and retention.

The Honourable Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Dr. (Mrs.) Lola Akande, revealed this while speaking at the Expo, themed: “Repositioning the Nigeria Leather Industry for Global Competitiveness”, held on Monday at Adeyemi-Bero Auditorium, Alausa – Ikeja.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mrs. Adetutu Oluremi Ososanya, the Commissioner stated that the theme of the event, organised in partnership with the Lagos State Shoe Makers Association and National Steering Committee on Implementation of Leather Policy, was cogent and relevant.

Her words: “This well-thought-out theme bears direct relevance to the focus of Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu’s administration, in line with the T.H.E.M.E.S Development Agenda of transforming and positioning the State for the 21st Century Economy.

“As a responsive and responsible government, this administration has provided support in form of access to market, finance and construction of a Leather Hub (which is 65 percent completed) to entrepreneurs in this sector and business owners in other sectors to mitigate challenges hindering market access and production”, she added.

Speaking further, Akande maintained that the completion of the Leather Hub would translate to the creation of direct and indirect jobs for many youths and improved products for players in the leather value chain.

“Let me assure you that the Lagos State Government would continue to be a partner in progress and would always facilitate a conducive business environment for businesses to thrive in the sector in particular and the State in general”, she said.

Akande commended the efforts of the Nigerian Institute of Leather and Science Technology (NILEST) and other stakeholders for putting up the laudable initiative which will help entrepreneurs in the industry unlock the economic potential in the leather businesses.

“This will translate to more employment opportunities, increase in the State’s IGR and wealth creation for stakeholders”, the Commissioner stated.

Also speaking at the occasion, the Director-General of NILEST and Chairman, National Steering Committee on the Implementation of Leather Policy, Prof. Muhammad K. Yakubu, said a workshop of this nature provides an opportunity for industry players to interact, cross-fertilize ideas and exchange information that will contribute to the growth of the sector.

He said: “It should be our collective resolve that the National Leather and Leather Products Policy Implementation Plan should not be one of those that will be put on the shelf to gather dust. I, therefore, urge you to pay serious attention to this Leather Business to Business Summit and Expo to fast-track the implementation of the policy”.

“The summit will focus on coordination, partnership, critical infrastructures, innovative research and development in Nigeria’s leather industry. The summit will also centre on standardisations, marketing and patronage of Nigeria leather products for global competitiveness as well as sustainable funding structure for the Industry and other related matters”, he added.

Representative of the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Mrs. Stella Igwilo commended the Lagos State Government for its passionate support of the leather industry, stating that the event can take the industry to greater heights.

She also asserted that Nigeria has good leather products which, if properly processed and produced into products with improved finishing, can compete favourably with those manufactured overseas.

Speaking earlier, the President of Lagos State Shoemakers Association, Mr. Yesiru Bello said the expo and business summit would create awareness and expose members to investors and export opportunities available for leather works and accessories, which includes car and home upholstery in Lagos State. “Shun Dollars and spend Naira to increase the IGR of the State and income of our members”, he charged.

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