KONKOLA Copper Mines (KCM) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Copperbelt Leather Industry Cluster to establish a leather cottage industry clustering and incubation project.
KCM manager for community relations Brian Siatubi said about 200 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) would receive training for making leather products like safety shoes and gloves for the mining industry when they build necessary capacity in the future.
Mr Siatubi said the signing of the MoU was a significant step in KCM’s plans to help improve the lives of Zambians through economic diversification.
He said the project would contribute to employment generation which was critical to support sustainable livelihoods in the communities.
“The objective of the assistance to the leather association is to facilitate the creation and development of viable cottage industries in the leather sector, and will target shoe cobblers, shoe makers and the youth who will primarily be identified from the communities where KCM operates,” he said.
Mr Siatubi said KCM would provide the initial capital requirement of K121, 000 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.
And Copperbelt leather industry cluster coordinator Preston Viswamo said the relationship with KCM was going to advance its operations and enable it to grow, adding that it would allow to create market linkages for the Chingola cluster with the main one in Kitwe.
“It is a milestone because this partnership with KCM will strengthen us in terms of delivering services to the SMEs in the leather sector,’’ he said.