Aparna S in conversation with Shankar Dawn, President, ILPA, Kolkata for SMBIT.IN.BANGALORE, INDIA:
The ILPA was formed twenty-five years ago from the manufacturers of the leather goods. This was formed essentially to voice out the concerns and problems faced by the leather industry to the Government. The objective has always been that of raising various problems impacting the industry to different and concerned individuals / departments to be rectified. The association also works for the overall leather industry development, manages and solves the daily operational matters and so on.
The ILPA interestingly runs a design studio. This was developed with a key focus and need for upgradation. The leather industry is a part of the larger fashion world and hence being upgraded with the right trends, technical skills becomes important. Many of the SME organizations cannot upgrade themselves easily and neither can they afford the expensive machinery to develop new fashionable products. Hence the design studio was formed wherein the SMEs can use the infrastructure at the design studio at a very nominal fee and get advise on product designs, trends, features and many more aspects. The ILPA has also organized a team of experienced designers to guide the SMEs on the related aspects of design and productization. The design studio is funded by the Government of West Bengal.
The leather industry has a huge requirement of labor and it faces a labor crisis. ILPA is developing a training institute and will soon initiate the training process for the rural people. This will also ensure they are later absorbed into the leather industry. This will be launched in April – May 2012.
Also read: Profile of ILPA
The key focus areas for ILPA this year includes the launch and activation of the training school and develop specific initiatives to train organizations and people to upgrade themselves to meet the ongoing requirements of the fashion industry. Some of the challenges faced by this industry is the extreme shortage of labor and raw materials.
ILPA has over a hundred members. There is an Executive Committee which meets once a month to discuss the key imperatives of the Association and its activities. In addition, over five to six seminars are conducted and organized by the Association. The Association also participates in fashion shows, international fairs and institutes Awards for recognition. For some of its key activities, ILPA has received the initial support and encouragement from the Government of West Bengal.
In his words, the President says that there is a requirement of increased support from the Government to cope with the current situation. Also the government support is required to achieve the possibilities of increased market share, need more soft loans to reduce costs and enhance productivity. He strongly believes that this support can ensure a high growth in the leather industry. He also says there is great potential in the leather business in India and it has a great potential for growth. Currently it only has captured approximately 5% of the global market share. Hence there is a huge potential of jobs and revenue from the leather industry.
It is indeed commendable learn about the initiatives of Mr. Dawn who represents his Association and nearly the entire leather industry in India.