Leather firm Rukanda Pride targets regional markets Rukanda Pride executive director Paula Marowa, shakes hands with Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube after handing over an executive bag as a token of appreciation to the minister at the just-ended ZimTrade Exporters’ conference. The bag is one of the leather products manufactured by Rukanda Pride

Michael Tome Business Reporter

RUKANDA Pride, an indigenous leather products manufacturing firm, says it is looking at broadening its product reach beyond Zimbabwean borders, with immediate efforts being made to tap into the Sadc market.

The youthful company, which was established around 2016, is pursuing growth and expansion strategies in an endeavour to supply its eminent leather products outside the country.

Owned by a 27-year-old female entrepreneur, Paula Marowa, the business has slowly been gaining momentum in the local market producing a range of handmade products including boots, wallets, handbags, and belts.

Also dominant in its product range are shoes like Oxfords, monk straps, loafers, and moccasins, which can easily compete with exotic brands even from Europe.

According to Ms Marowa, the founder and executive director of Rukanda Pride the local market reception has been encouraging considering the good product feedback.

In an interview, Ms Marowa said her desire was to grow the industry and produce extensively to meet the impending growth.

She said the company’s local market share was improving significantly and would want to see the country produce its own luxury shoe brands, which may help in curbing foreign exchange bill expended on importing expensive shoe brands.

“We now have distributors in Zambia coming from the exposure we got from Zambia International Trade Fair, which is the only international trade fair we attended this year and we are set to travel to Botswana for the global expo, but we are aiming at the whole SADC region.

“We seek to grow, expand and be innovative enough to deliver remarkable real leather products that satisfy today’s customer,” said Ms Marowa.

The firm has also managed to take advantage of local exhibitions having had the privilege to attend Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), Harare Agriculture Show, and Sanganai Hlanganani.

However, she indicated that her company had been carrying out operations with the available finances in their coffers but had a long-term vision to approach financial institutions for financial injection to boost capacity.

“We have been bootstrapping, investing in the business by ploughing back our profits, but in the future, we need to have funding, because we need to start doing mass production to get into the export market,” she said.

Ms Marowa indicated that her business had the advantage of having raw material readily available locally, from goat, sheep, and cattle skins.

“We are basically using leather that does not require us to have a license like goat and  sheep skins mainly for jackets and then cattle skins for shoes and bags because we have not had access to get a license to be able to use game skins.”

The business has doubled its manpower from four in 2018 to eight currently.

She said running such a business as a youthful female entrepreneur comes with different challenges.

“Out there people make it look easy but it is not a bed of roses, it, however, creates a sense of responsibility and pride that I am female and young, and it’s actually motivating.

“The perception out there has been that young females are all into ‘blessers’ but no, there are actually young people who are hard-working out there,” she added.

 

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