“This is a business I have grown up in. I have achieved a lot in the business. I got married and am taking care of my family from what I earn in the business.”
Operators in the famous Jos-based Naraguta Shoe Works industry, have described leatherworks business as holding great economic potential for Nigeria’s economy if operators are provided the needed support, particularly funding, to grow their businesses.
One of the operators and the Director, Naraguta Leather Works, Alh. Abdullahi Shu’aibu, said that currently the operators were producing leather shoes at sub-optimal level, adding, however, that if provided a more enabling environment and funding support to enable them access modern machines and other necessary tools, they can produce more than 100 pairs of leather shoes daily aside other by-products.
The SME leather works operators are also producing other leather products including belts, wallets, jackets, and bags, among others.
The industrialist said if the location of the operators remained fully developed, it could go a long way in reducing unemployment within Jos and its environs, noting that even with the current situation, it had so far trained more than 5,000 youths within and outside Nigeria, who are now producing shoes and other leather products and are doing well.
Shu’aibu, said though many of the SMEs owners were doing their best in producing leather products, pointing out that with the aid of contemporary machines they will optimize their capacities and produce for larger markets and by so doing, improve the incomes of the micro, small and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) in the industry.
On the challenges facing the operators, he said: “Whenever contract is given to us to produce any leather product such as bags, for example, we find it very difficult to get them ready for timely delivery because we don’t have modern machines that can help us speed up production in our facilities.
Sharing his experience, Saleh Haruna, who has been in shoe making business at Naraguta community for more than two decades and had been making a living out of it, said the business is good and urged unemployed youths to learn the skills and begin to build a fulfilling future from it.
“This is a business I have grown up in. I have achieved a lot in the business. I got married and am taking care of my family from what I earn in the business. I equally pay school fees of my children,” Haruna enthused.
Yusuf Sani, another shoe maker, said he grew up in the business and today is comfortable by all assessment standards, adding that the learning process was a simple one if one was dedicated.
“After years of training, I was able to learn the job which had helped me to sponsor my secondary school and diploma programme. I got married and started paying school fees for my kids.”
Sani, like Shu’aibu, however, said the only challenge in the business was lack of money for mothern equipment to support the process.
On the impact of the COVID-19 impact on the Naraguta shoe business, Shu’aibu, said just like any other business, the outbreak and subsequent spread had adversely affected operators’ businesses and incomes since visitors had stopped coming to the location due to the fear of the disease and the lockdown order by the federal government. “You know, the place serves as tourist site apart from the leather products we produce. People from other states and even beyond the country come to this site because of its age.
So, because of the pandemic, people have stopped coming. Our customers are not ordering for the products because market places have been closed down for months.
Confirming the potential of the leather works for national economic growth, Esther Sanda, a Physical and Health Education student of University of Jos and a trainee at the industry, said she was happy for making up her mind to learn the business. “I decided to learn the business so that I will not be jobless even after graduation. I believe that with this experience, I can manage before I get any government job. This is a good business to learn”, she said.
Source: Daily Trust