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Under the  INSPIRED Grant Scheme, two projects were successfully implemented and completed by the Leather goods And Footwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB). The closing ceremony organised by LFMEAB for these two projects was held at Six Seasons Hotel, Gulshan, Dhaka, on the 20th August, 2016.

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Mr. Mohsarraf Hossain Bhuiyan ndc, Senior Secretary, Ministry of Industries,graced the Closing Ceremony as the Chief Guest, and Ms. Mafruha Sultana Vice-Chairman Bangladesh Export Promotion Bureau was the Special Guest of the event. Mr. JurgenHeimann Minister Counsellor and Ms. Rubayat Jesmin, Senior Progamme Officer were present as representatives of the Delegation of European Union to Bangladesh.  Industry leaders, donor partners and SME Shoe cluster representatives were also present. The closing ceremony followed on from the AGM of LFMEAB and consequently the attendance was boosted by many members of LFMEAB from outside of Dhaka.

Md. Mashiur Rahman, Project Director and Ms. KaziRoushan Ara, Executive Director LFMEAB, delivered presentations on the successful activities and achievements of the implemented projects which amongst many activities includes: on-line knowledge base, a brochure of Investment Opportunities;Investment Opportunity workshop;attendanceat international conferences;national and international, compliance audits for members factories/ workshops to raise awareness on the need for the sector to move forward with compliance issues; training of members in access to finance; the establishment of two Common Facility Centres (CFC); training of CFC workers including a high number of women trainees;and capacity building of the staff and members of LFMEAB. In addition, a book in Bengali on the Footwear sector of Bangladesh named “Foot Last Footwear”, written by Mr. Noor Mohammad, Lecturer of Bangladesh College of Leather Technology, published by LFMEAB, was launched at the closing ceremony. This is the first book of its kind to be published in Bangladesh.

Ali Sabet, Team Leader, Bangladesh INSPIRED  Components 1 & 2b  and Ms. Anne Raine, Senior Short term Expert, Bangladesh INSPIRED, both spoke at the event and shared their experience of working with this professionally run private sector organisation and with the two leather goods SME Clusters. The establishment of the two CFCs under the auspices of LFMEAB has opened the door to opportunity for the two SME clusters and has enabled the members to utilise machinery that would have been impossible for them to buy as individual entities. Furthermore, the workers have been given up-to-date skills and the two clusters are already seeing increased production and new orders are being obtained.

flower-secThe relocation of tanneries from Dhaka’s Hazaribagh to Savar was also discussed. The relocation of the tanneries will be very beneficial to the country’s leather exports as it will address the longstanding compliance issues of the leather industry generally. It was pointed out that the sustained increase in leather exports can also help Bangladesh to diversify its export basket and lessen the dependence on readymade garments. Currently, the Leather sector, combining Leather and Leather products, is currently the second largest exporting sector of Bangladesh after ready-made garments and is seen by the Government as sector with even stronger growth potential.