AGRO BUSINESS AND LEATHER BOOTS
At a time when politicians are eagerly staring at the Republic’s vacant Maroquins, a government department, in this case OPEC, the Office for the Promotion of Small and Medium-Sized Congolese Enterprises, is setting out to reconquer the leather sector. Focus on a particularly innovative SME incubator project to relaunch agroindustrial sectors.

THE LEATHER INDUSTRY

According to projections, it will generate some US$203 million annually in the long term and should create more than100,000 jobs, including subcontractors.

Almost forgotten in our country, while everything necessary for its development is within reach of hands, know-how and creativity, the leather industry is now in full revival.

With 40 million head of cattle slaughtered each year in the DRC, sheep and cattle, the DRC could satisfactorily meet both local and sub-regional demand by supplying leather, hides and leather-based manufactured products. Bags, shoes, belts and other armchairs or sofas stamped “made in DRC” could thus become in a few years synonymous with the excellence of Congolese industry and crafts.

“The creativity of our young people is there, the abundant raw material!

It remained to give a real impetus to revitalize the sector. The SME incubator for leather crafts created by OPEC meets this need,” OPEC’s CEO Ezéchiel Biduaya told M&B with passion.

Thanks to COMESA funding, which has made it possible to equip the workshops with the necessary equipment and train trainers, the project initiated in 2017 is now in the operational phase.

From training in tanning to luxury shoe making, marketing or management coaching, Kinshasa’s SME incubator allows any young person wishing to get involved in the leather industry to get started.

The next Louboutin may be a mwana mboka, you never know?

THE ESSENTIAL OILS SECTOR

With the more than encouraging results observed with leather, OPEC now wishes to focus on essential oils. As we know, the cosmetics industry, and bio-cosmetics in particular, are very fond of tropical essential oils.

With its 2300 rare species that can provide an oil free of any chemical input, the DRC can easily position itself as world champion in the sector. And the booming market could give it an unparalleled comparative country advantage.

The incubator created by OPEC is in the process of being operationalized and, at the same time, the first plantations to launch the industry, with the technical support of South African experts, are being developed in Kongo Central.

“Let’s not forget that our climate favours several harvests a year, which multiplies the possibilities of turnover! “said DGA Biduaya, who predicted that, within a few years, the sector will account for several billion dollars in GDP.

THREE QUESTIONS TO EZECHIEL BUDUAYA CEO of OPEC  DGA, 

M&B : how many young people have already been trained in these two fields?

EZECHIEL BUDUAYA : The leather incubator has already trained a first group of 25 young people, 25 others are in full training and we aim to train 100 young people by the end of the year. The essential oils incubator is in the implementation phase and will have the particularity of integrating the High Intensity dimension of the workforce.

M&B : I understand that the new President is particularly interested in this project, is that correct?

EB :The President of the Republic in his keynote speech noted that there was a need to encourage and revitalize national entrepreneurship and therefore, these projects are part of the realization of his vision.

M&B :  What are your needs or constraints to date to go even further?

EB The constraints are of several kinds, particularly informational. The two sectors are still unknown although they have real potential and mobilising funds for their full implementation remains a challenge.

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