Bata Partners 150 Small Shoe Makers

By Mark Mhukayesango

GWERU,November 25,2015-BATA shoe company,one of Gweru’s few surviving firms has embarked on
a capacity utilisation project by roping in 150 small scale shoe
manufacturers to produce semi finished shoes in a bid to cut costs of
production.
The small scale shoe manufactures produce stitched uppers which are
produced into a finished product at Bata.
The economic meltdown has for the past five years affected Bata’s
fortunes as the country has become flooded with cheap imports.
Bata management says the new strategy where the small shoe
manufacturers are called Associate Businesses is meant to give the
company the much needed impetus since it operates on a single shift.
“We operate a single shift, hence we have roped in the small
manufacturers so that we can increase our capacity utilisation,” Bata
Managing Director, Ahm Ehsanuzzaman told Radio VOP.
The project has since worked to Bata’s advantage after it spurred its
capacity utilisation to 85 percent this year from 30 percent in 2014.
Apart from turning around the fortunes of Bata, the project has
created over 300 jobs in and around Gweru.
Ehsanuzzaman said the company has invested $1 million in the setting
of the business units and bought 200 shoe manufacturing machines which
have immensely empowered the small scale manufactures here.
“The company is investing in empowering the communities surrounding us
and this is the only way we can give back to our society. These shoes
makers did not have any equipment and could not produce more shoes,”
he said.
Ehsanuzzaman said in spite of the economic challenges ,his company was
determined to remain as one of the remaining companies in Gweru after
other like ZimAlloys, Zimasco among others have fallen by the way
side.
Bata is currently finalising the construction of two shoe factories
which will be handed over to the local shoe makers.
Brains Maneta, a local shoe maker who benefitted from the scheme said
he never dreamt that he would subcontract Bata.
“This is a miracle because my small workshop did not have the right
equipment. Now i can produce stitched uppers for Bata and can extra
cash for it,” said Maneta.
Maneta, who is based Senga said he has now produce quality ,affordable
shoes from the knowledge he got from Bata.
“My shoes have more customers now because they are of good quality.
This program should be availed to more shoe makers in Zimbabwe,” he
said.
Zimbabwe has a large population of shoe makers., but they remain small
due to lack of financial support and requisite equipment.
“I no longer operate from under a tree because i now have my own
workshop. This growth is what will give us the competitive advantage
over imports,” said Erasmus Muchetu ,a local shoe manufacturer.
Gweru has faced massive deindustrialization in the past decade, but
Bata has remained operation ,although the company has faced stiff
competition from cheap Chinese shoes.
“The Chinese imports are flooding the market and we were caught off
guard. But we are trying to counter such challenges by continuing to
produce high quality shoes,” said Ehsanuzzman.
Cheap shoes are flooding the market and most average income earners in
Zimbabwe have become accustomed to buying shoes on the road due to low
disposable income.
Bata has therefore been forced to reduce production of leather shoes
since the market is now also flooded with Tanzanian, Dubai and South
African shoes.
“We have reduced the production of our leather shoes and upped
production of canvass shoes in order to maximise on the demand.”