How To Start A Leather Production Business In Nigeria Or Africa: The Complete Guide

How To Start A Leather Production Business In Nigeria Or Africa | Image Source: Pexels

The clothing industry has undergone different phases of transformation since the introduction of leather production. As far back as early 2200BC, leather has been a continuously used product with high demands, going by available historical records. Ever since, humankind has realised the benefits of using leather.

Today, human consumption of leather products has evolved into a daily activity. Global production of leather currently exceeds US$80 billion per year and is expected to increase in the coming years.

China holds the world record for the largest producers of leather. They produced about 57.7 million pieces of leather clothing in the year 2012 alone. However, this was a mild drop from the 2010 output, which equalled 62.4 million. In terms of exporting leather products, China contributes a whopping 36% of global leather exports, far ahead of Italy, which exports 12% and Vietnam, 11%.

For global importation of leather, Italy holds the ace. As of 2019, they imported leather worth $2.4 million while China followed from a distance with $967,000 worth of imports. Mexico followed the lead with about $772,000 worth of global leather imports.

Nigeria, on her part, exports a great value of leather, with about 70% of such exports shipped to Italy and Spain. Going by available statistics, the Nigerian leather industry is estimated to grow to a value of US$1 billion by the year 2025. This would be a massive 70% leap for the country’s leather industry.

However, the Nigerian leather industry has suffered significant setbacks due to inadequate funding and competition between local products and imported products. Also, the Nigerian leather industry struggles to catch up with global standards because it churns out substandard products using nondurable synthetic leather.

The Nigerian leather industry, therefore, requires the aid of the government in terms of finances, friendly international relation policies, as well as facilities and machinery for leather production.

However, if you’re looking to start a lucrative business in Nigeria or Africa, leather production is a wise choice!

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What is Leather?

Leather is a durable material derived from raw animal hides and skin, most especially cow skin. It is used in furniture and textile industries as well as the production of fashion accessories.


What is Leather Production?

Leather production describes the process of putting animal skin through different stages of change to derive leather, which, refined and processed, is then used to manufacture various items. In other words, it is the procedure of changing animal skin into a refined material used for the production of commodities for wearing and other purposes.

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Business Opportunities Associated with Leather Production

1). Shoe Production:

By global recognition, leather shoes are a well-produced and traded brand. Leather, when used in making shoes, has no limitation, either in designs or demand and supply.

2). Furniture Production:

Almost every furniture in the market has a leather covering, synthetic or real. It provides the furniture with a blended look, and it is also long.

3). Cloth Production:

Leather is used in the production of clothes, leather jackets and related clothing items.

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Facts and Benefits of Leather Production

  • Kanpur is India’s oldest and largest industrial city and is the economic capital of Uttar Pradesh.
  • Only all-natural vegetable and plant-based extracts are used by craftsmen to manufacture Italian leather.
  • Goatskin is considered the strongest type of leather.
  • Not all skins are derived from animals.
  • Leather is an easy material to repair and recycle.
  • Leather has a beautiful appeal to the eyes.
  • Leather products such as jackets and shoes sit comfortably on the human skin.
  • Leather lasts for ages!
  • China, Brazil, Russia, India and Italy are the biggest producers of leather worldwide.
  • Leather production in Nigeria is found predominantly in Aba, Lagos, Onitsha and Kano.


Types of Leather

There are three different types of leather. They are:

1). Full Grain:

This type of leather contains the entire layout of the hide. The whole grain has not been sanded and is therefore still in its imperfect state, but after processing, the furs become appealing. This type of leather is firm and durable and is used in a series of production. Full-grain leather is arguably the most valuable type of leather and is used, especially in making furniture.

2). Top Grain Leather:

This is similar to full-grain leather, but it has been sanded and well processed to remove all imperfections. Top grain leather is also attractive after processing. More so, after processing, it becomes soft and flexible, and is less sturdy, compared to full grain. This particular type of leather is used in the production of bags, shoes and others.

3). Bonded Leather:

Bonded leather comprises other leather parts which are shredded and bonded together. It is sometimes referred to as combining real and fake leather. Due to the nature of this type of leather, it is cheaper and less durable than the others.

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How to Start Leather Production: Step-by-Step Guide

1). Preparation:

The skin of any animal can be used in the production of leather. To do this, skin the animal, using a sharp knife. Cut through the animal from neck to tail or leg region. Separate the hide from the inner skin and remove all unwanted parts. Put out the skin on a beam and carefully scrape off flesh from the hides. Apply much salt to the hides and soak in a salt solution for about 24 hours. The use of salt helps in purification and preservation. Immerse the hide in warm water to get rid of the salt and prepare the hide for the hair removal process.

2). Hair Removal:

This process can be carried out chemically by washing the hide with calcium hydroxide or by manually removing the hair with a knife or mechanized equipment.

3). Tanning:

Training is necessary to make the leather more durable and less prone to decomposition. When it comes to the tanning process, different methods can be used to achieve the same quality. Apply a tanning extract to the water, then emerge the leather in the water, continually rotating it for even distribution. Do this at intervals for about three days. After this, rinse the leather thoroughly with warm water and add dye to give the leather a better look.

4). Finishing:

Put out the leather to dry or use mechanical dryers. When this is achieved, the leather would need to be softened. Stretch out the leather and lubricate with oil, rubbing it all over the skin surface. Once the leather is ready, polish it to look brighter and package.


Challenges of Leather Production

  • There are many fake leather materials in the market.
  • Quality leather production is a challenging and time-consuming process.
  • Lack of skilled personnel for the process.
  • Low governmental support and funding.
  • Over-dependence on imported leather products from countries like China and Italy.
  • Lack of standard machinery.
  • Poor transport network within the country
  • Unavailability of loans for dealers in leather
  • Absence of policies for developing the leather industry
  • The poor relationship between organisations involved in leather production
  • Competition from other materials such as plastic and rubber.

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To Sum It Up

Till date, leather is still making significant impacts on the global economy. Each passing decade, processing, and application of the material broadens and becomes more accurate and less demanding. This is a testimony to the universal adoption and progress of leather production.

The leather production business in Nigeria can be a lucrative and profitable venture to start-up, due to its vast market demand and depending on your ability to build a wide supply chain network. If you’re looking for a business to venture into, the leather production business in Nigeria is a great option to explore.


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