In Pakistan, Lehri Sibi is the exclusive hub of Leather Embroidery. A limited number of artisans work in remote villages, most of them traditionally linked with businesses. Many artisans have learnt these skills from their parents and forefathers. They chiefly prepare embroidered Chappals, Wallets etc and sell them to local shops and wholesalers. Though the profit earned is not enormous, it is adequate for sustenance. Lack of fashion consciousness, new designs, innovative color schemes, product development and business promotion skills is a bottleneck that constrain opportunities for business and development of these people.
AHAN is engaged in livelihood enhancement of these artisans. In year 2011, AHAN conducted a Skill Enhancement Training Program on leather embroidery. The seven month long training started in January 2011 and successfully generated new ideas in terms of designs, motifs, color schemes and products. AHAN supported successful trainees with marketing and financial linkages. Periodical visits by master trainer to the village were ensured to constantly improve the quality of production. To ensure market linkages, AHAN arranged for people who provide raw material at doorstep. AHAN also places orders and collects the products on a regular basis. AHAN has impaneled many customers and traders all across the country to ensure regular demand of embroidery on pure leather.
Mr. Hassan, a poor leather-embroidery artisan, was linked with KO-ee shoe making company of Lahore during AHAN-SAARC Exhibition at Islamabad in February 2013. AHAN gave the innovative idea to the shoe-making company to incorporate hand-embroidery on pure leather in their handmade shoes. In the initial stages, the company involved these artisans in embroidery-work with new designs & color schemes for display in an exhibition by FN Platform Company in USA. The idea of incorporating traditional hand-embroidered leather into modern designs was highly appreciated there. The stall won the award of “Best Exhibitor”. This was the first time leather embroidery of ‘Lehri’ was introduced to international market. As a result, a huge production order of handmade embroidered shoes was received from an international company. Now Mr. Hassan and his cluster are engaged in fulfilling this lucrative production order from international market. Glimpses of success reflect from the faces of artisans who are leading a happy life with their families today.