Funded by the EU under the SWITCH Africa Green initiative, the Green Tanning Initiative was launched during the All African Leather Fair in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on June 11. Actions planned under the programme include training and coaching of staff at selected Ethiopian abattoirs, tanneries and factories, trade missions and matchmaking with European buyers. Stahl says the initiative is currently working with a group of five European companies interested in doing business with Ethiopian leather makers, of which three are already procuring leather and leather goods in the country.

“Ethiopia is renowned for its livestock of 56 million and its fine leather”, said Heske Verburg, Managing Director, Solidaridad Europe. “At the same time, few European companies have established direct business relations with Ethiopia. We believe there is ample opportunity to build those relations and to have Ethiopia play a more significant role as supplier of leather and leather goods to the European market”, he added.

The programme will also seek to improve production practices such as selecting the hides, developing tanning-methods using less or no chrome, salt, water and energy, as well as improving waste treatment and working conditions in the whole leather value chain. 

First launched in 2013 to support countries in Africa to achieve sustainable development by engaging in the transition towards an ‘inclusive green economy which generates growth and creates jobs’, the SWITCH Africa Green Initiative aims to support the establishment of policies, incentive structures and instruments for green business development, along with private sector initiatives promoting SCP practices.