‘Made in Aba’ opens new growth opportunities for Nigeria

The little seed of ideas sowed a few years ago by Kelechi Nwosu and his team at TBWAConcept Nigeria, with support from other major stakeholders, in Abia State and beyond has metamorphosed into a major commercial project called ‘Made-in-Aba’.

The concept which was inspired by the need to give branding to made in Aba products and bring them up to globally accepted standard is fast developing into a major catalyst for future growth in Abia and adjoining states.

In support of the project and in a bid to drive the campaign deep into the international market, TBWAConcept, with support from Ford Foundation last years launched a series of marketing video that captures the essence and spirit of the Made in Aba project. One of the video made by TBWAConcept is title “where was your shoe made”

The video begins with a young Caucasian woman walking up a flight of stairs. “Nice bag,” a voice says. “Thank you,” she replies. “Where are your shoes made?” the voice asks another person, a young man this time around. “I think they’re Italian, hey,” he says. Another woman says they are “definitely from Europe.” The voice questions her, “are you sure?” She replies, “Yes, it’s got a European feel.” And then a voice in the background breaks the news to her that her bag is made in Aba, Nigeria.

Those words accompany the opening sequence to a series of videos created by the Proudly Made in Aba campaign team and is also featured on their website. The first video, titled ‘Where are your shoes made?’, discusses the huge market that leather shoes, bags, belts and purses made in Aba already have in Nigeria, Africa and the world over. Craftsmen and businessmen based in Aba describe what the market means to them and how they have contributed to building it.

For many of the traders and craftsmen in Aba, making leather products is all they’ve known all their lives. One of the craftsmen, Austin Emmanuel, said he learned bag making from his “master” and he used it to sponsor himself to the university. Another businessman featured in the video, Mazi Okechukwu Williams, says, “the finished leather goods sector in Abia state (where Aba is) produces over 800,000 pairs of shoes per day.”

However, as prosperous as the leather products industry in Aba has been, the craftsmen are now faced with the problem of globalisation and the speed at which technology is evolving. With the rising cost of materials and, consequently, the cost of production combined with the receding collective purchasing power of the public, the craftsmen and traders now realise the need to embrace new technology that will ultimately drive down these costs. They are appealing for more investors to come to their aid. So, the video series serve as visual aids for said investors, to help them better understand what is going on in Aba.

In April 2017, the Abia state government signed a $1.5 billion deal with Huajian Shoe Industry to bolster the growth of Aba’s shoe industry. The expectation is that the deal will bring about 10,000 direct and 50,000 indirect jobs.

The Made in Aba campaign is a vital aspect of President Buhari’s administration’s drive to encourage the patronage of made in Nigeria products as well as the development of local industries.


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