Reference is made to the article, “Simugomwa invested Rwf6000 in leather to turn around his fortunes” (The New Times, May 6).
I wish to extend my congratulations to Emmanuel Simugomwa and all his colleagues in the cooperative ! Theirs is one among several right initiatives in an agri-pastoral country such as ours.
Let me state, however, that in addition to availability of high quality raw materials, in addition to immediate access to a sizable national and a regional market, in addition to skills and technical know-how acquired, and in addition to genuine present and future needs in equipments and money to purchase them, there is a pre-requisite that is not yet available here in Rwanda to promote and expand further such initiatives.
We lack a team of appropriately trained, dedicated researchers and developers in daily use artifacts, such as shoes.
We all know that feet are not created equal, and that no one shoe fits them all alike. The cooperative, therefore, needs someone who, following a thorough and extensive study, would advise them that for such a type of foot, of such and such a person, for such a specific purpose, with such level of desired comfort, and in such a particular physical and socio-cultural environment of use, such a type of foot covers, with such and such appropriate quality material, is what is needed, and is what is worth and ought to be made the coop members.
In short, skills in making shoes are indispensable but not enough. The cooperative should seek continued objective guidance and knowledge expansion on what to make with the available resources.
That is called innovation, based not on improvisation with the available means, but on product research and development knowledge, that we so badly need in Rwanda and in Africa in general.