Leather chemicals and coatings company Stahl has joined forces with non-profit group PUM Netherlands to work towards a more sustainable leather industry in developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

The ultimate goal is to combat poverty and increase local employment, with experts from both organisations contributing their skills and knowledge to the initiative.

PUM Netherlands was founded by Dutch employers' organisation VNO-NCW and supports small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries by deploying senior experts – all volunteers – for short-term advisory missions on the work floor. By sharing their knowledge, these senior experts help take the entrepreneurs to the next level, improving their business performance and creating paths for sustainable growth and job creation.

While PUM has advised SMEs in the leather sector in the past, its CEO Thijs van Praag explains that since the leather sector has been disappearing from the Netherlands in recent years, "we have had fewer senior experts with knowledge of the leather process at our disposal." However, "by partnering up with Stahl this will be history," he adds.

"Joining forces with PUM offers Stahl a great opportunity to make a positive difference on a global scale", agrees Michael Costello, director of sustainability at Stahl. "By cooperating with such a strong organisation and its partners we believe we can secure a better and more sustainable future for thousands of people."

Projects will see Stahl employees work with tanneries in an advisory capacity on specific projects that require their technical skills and services.

The goal is to improve business operations, the sustainability of the leather sector, and the quality of leather, but Stahl also believes that linking small and medium sized companies in developing countries to experienced professional experts can help combat poverty.