Kyuma uses a proprietary non-toxic tanning process to produce sandals and accessories. Kyuma collects reject hides of cattle from farms and those lost to drought. The waste hides are used to produce leather for footwear.
Use waste as a resource
1End poverty in all its forms everywhere
8Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
12Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Kenya has no shortage of animal hides and a huge leather industry, but there is much inbuilt waste in the system. After leather manufacturers purchase their materials from the slaughterhouses, the low quality, third grade hides are discarded or used for dog food. Wasted hides cause both air and land pollution, as well as unpleasant smells for the people living near slaughterhouses.
Another largely untapped source of hides comes from the cattle that die during the frequent droughts in northern Kenya, the loss of which can otherwise destroy the livelihoods of cattle owners.
Victor Nzau describes himself as a ‘leather technologist’. As a young boy, he accompanied his mother, a teacher at a leather school, to work. He saw first-hand the waste in the leather industry and tirelessly applied for business plan competitions and accelerator programmes as he developed his business, Kyuma Goods.
At the Kenya Climate Innovation Centre, he was inspired to develop a method for tanning leather that avoids the harmful chemicals applied by the industry. He has developed his own experimental trials with natural tanning products.
In 2014 Kyuma Goods started by collecting discarded hides from farms and slaughterhouses to produce leather for footwear. Next, they began to partner with communities affected by drought by engaging women and young people to collect discarded waste cattle hides. They developed a 21-day training programme for collectors on how to collect and preserve the hides using natural techniques.
This minimises air pollution and ensures that the hides are in good condition when Kyuma Goods collects them. Committed to removing the negative impacts of hide processing, Kyuma Goods have researched the use of vegetable extracts instead of harmful chemicals in tanning their leather. They are now researching the possibility of incorporating other plant and animal-based tanning products, such as rhubarb, red cabbage and pig manure.
In addition to employing people from the local community, Kyuma Goods offers vocational skills training and serves as an incubation centre in the community. They also run an internship programme for students to come and learn from their workers. Kyuma Goods is ISO 14000 certified.