Pakistan is considered to be one of the greatest leather manufacturers of the Asian region. The country is famous for its leather products that include, leather garments, accessories and footwear. It is also the source of employment for thousands of workers through out the country. A total of 800 tanneries actively works in the country to produce premium leather items. Pakistan is a key player for leather production in the South Asian region with major exports to the European Market. A dominant agricultural sector also helps Pakistan to produce large amounts of leather.
While the country produces leather on such large scales, leather industry in the country is largely informal. A lack of modern techniques, asymmetric information and poorly managed supply chains has led the leather industry to hit a glass ceiling. If reformed Pakistan can further dominate the leather production in the region. But more importantly, the industry needs to develop in a sustainable manner. This is where Asif Ali comes in.
Asif Ali Gohar is Pakistani national who moved to Germany in 2004. At a young age of 12, he alongside his family settled in the city of Hamburg. He started his schooling in Germany and came across the idea of veganism. By the age of 15, he realized that killing animals for food and other products was unjust. As a result, he converted to veganism. Veganism can be regarded as refraining from the use of animal products which include dietary restrictions as well as abstaining from products produced on the expense of animals such as leather.
During his time at the University of Hamburg he researched about vegan substitutes to leather and finally came up with the process of making vegan leather using rice. The leather slime produced also included yeast and acetic acid as bacteria activators. The reason for choosing rice was simple, Pakistan is the 4th largest rice exporter in the world, with an output of 9.3 million tons. Hence, the supply of raw material is not an issue for a country like Pakistan. Additionally, people are a lot more aware of rice farming in the country when compared to other raw material production techniques.
Currently, Pakistan exports leather in the value of $ 874 million, this amounts to 5.6% of the country’s GDP. If Asif Ali is able to setup production in Pakistan, he can change the leather industry for good. Not only would the industry be formalized but would then cater to a greater audience. Asif is currently looking for investors and a network that he can rely on to build a proper supply chain that involves production as well as selling of vegan leather goods. Asif envisions a cleaner and greener Pakistan and is determined to establish vegan leather production in the country. If the country capitalizes on vegan leather, we would not only meet our local demand but also export to international market where there is an ample demand for such goods.