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Under USAID's Productive Network (Red Productiva), CARANA will support the leather "cluster" or value chain in Cuenca, the third largest city in Ecuador, a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site, and home of the "Panama hat." CARANA's approach focuses on linking firms, industries, and the financial sector to improve the leather sector’s and region’s competitiveness – including leather hide producers and leather tanneries, designers and accessories manufacturers.

Key partners of this program are Cuerotex Confecciones, founded by Juan Malo in 1992, and Michael Trent Inc., based in Evansville, Indiana. Cuerotex, which provides outerwear to mainstream U.S. department stores, specialty houses, catalog companies, NASCAR racing teams and the U.S. National Rodeo Finals, will be the lead firm driving the process of cluster development among the 14 participating firms of the leather cluster– now known as CURTESA. MTI will provide market intelligence and additional distribution channels. It will also provide an initial rotating fund to finance working capital needs of micro and small producers.

"This GDA activity will be used as model for nine other clusters that USAID/Ecuador will support," said Bernai Velarde, USAID Senior Private Sector Officer. Through Red Productiva and this first GDA activity for the firm, CARANA will provide technical assistance and training to improve the leather sector's productivity, quality and designs for international and domestic markets. CARANA will also provide technical assistance on environmental issues affecting the leather industry.

on 20-September-2007on 20-September-2007

Photo: From left to right, Paul Bonicelli, USAID Deputy Administrator for Latin America and Caribbean, Alexi Panehal, USAID/Ecuador Mission Director, Juan Malo, President/Cuerotex and Santiago Secada, Project Director/CARANA, Red Productiva, at GDA signing ceremony.

Published October 2008