KONKOLA Copper Mines (KCM) has announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Copperbelt Leather Industry Cluster to establish the Leather Sector Cottage Industry Clustering and Incubation Project.
The company says the objective of the assistance to the leather association is to facilitate the creation and development of viable cottage industries in the Leather Sector. About 200 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) will also receive training for making leather products like safety shoes and gloves for the mining industry when they build necessary capacity in the future.
The project will target shoe cobblers, shoe makers and the youth who will primarily be identified from the communities where KCM operates.
Commenting on the project, KCM Manager Community Relations Brian Siatubi said: “the signing of the MoU is a significant step in KCM’s plans to help improve the lives of Zambians through economic diversification. The project will contribute to employment generation which is critical to support sustainable livelihoods in the communities.”
Mr Siatubi said KCM would provide the initial capital requirement of one hundred and twenty one thousand kwacha (K121, 000.00) to procure leather-making equipment and machinery required by the Copperbelt Leather Industry Cluster project.
“Our long-term goal is to support the growth of the leather industry so that SMEs can be supplying leather products like safety boots and gloves to the mining sector in the next few years. The support and growth of local industry fits into KCM and Vedanta Resources’ long-term vision to continue mining in Zambia for the next 50 years,” Mr Siatubi said.
Copperbelt Leather Industry Cluster Coordinator Preston Viswamo hailed KCM’s assistance as ‘a major milestone’ in pursuit of the growth of his association.
Commenting on the signing of the MoU, Mr Viswamo said: “it is a milestone because this partnership with KCM will strengthen us in terms of delivering services to the SMEs in the leather sector. The relationship with KCM is going to advance our operations and enable us to grow, especially our members in Chingola. It will allow us to create market linkages for the Chingola cluster with the main one in Kitwe.”