China fur businesses falls in love with Swakara

A group of 13 business leaders from the Chinese fur industry who recently graduated from the Tsinghua University in Beijing’s E-MBA programme visited Namibia last week as part of their graduation programme. The group consisted of officials from Kopenhagen Fur and executives who are managers and owners of different fur businesses in China. They visited the country to familiarise themselves with our own Swakara pelts and Swakara fur operations in Namibia as well as to enjoy Namibia’s prime tourism destinations.

The Swakara Board of Namibia in collaboration with Kopenhagen Fur’s Beijing office hosted the delegation to different activities during their time in Namibia.

On Wednesday, 14 June 2016, the Swakara Board organised a trip for the group to a Swakara stud farm, 180 km from Windhoek. Mr Raimar von Hase, Chairperson of the Swakara Board gave some background on Swakara farming in Namibia. “Swakara/Karakul farming started in Namibia more than 100 years ago. The first twelve karakul sheep (ten ewes and two rams) arrived in Swakopmund on 24 September 1907, and were sent to Windhoek that very same day. The arrival of the Karakul sheep gave rise to a new enterprise in agriculture, namely karakul/swakara farming.” During their trip on the farm, the group were exposed to the Swakara farming processes, from practical animal husbandry to the preparation of pelts for the international auctions.

In relation to the delegation’s visit, von Hase noted that the Swakara Board has identified Chinese high fashion as one of the ideal and strategic markets for Swakara. “Last year, the Swakara Board in cooperation with the Beijing office of Kopenhagen Fur conducted a survey to explore the possibilities of marketing Swakara in China. The survey results provided better understanding of the market, and thus enables the Board to develop and run campaigns that will target designers, manufactures and high fashion fur lovers in China,” he explained.

Ms Chris Cui, President of Kopenhagen Fur in China, was full of praise after the tour to the farm. She said, “After months of endeavours, the trip to Namibia became a reality. I am very excited and certain that members of the group have learnt a lot.” Cui was instrumental is assembling the group for their visit to Namibia. The group is comprised of various stakeholders from China at different levels of the value chain in the fur business; ranging from brokers and designers to furriers, manufacturers, and retailers.

Mr Kasper Reinbacher, Kopenhagen Fur’s Marketing Director, noted that Kopenhagen Fur and Tsinghua University jointly developed the E-MBA programme, an executive education programme tailor-made for the fur industry. “The one year E-MBA programme which is in its 6th year brought together stakeholders in the different parts of the value chain closer to learn, interact and share best practises in the fur industry.” The group visiting Namibia recently graduated from this programme. He concluded by saying, “The programme exposed the participants to management and business related topics, macroeconomics, finance and fur related knowledge. The overall objective is to boost skills in the fur industry and ensure sustainability in the future.”

Later in the evening, the Board hosted a cocktail reception at a local restaurant attended by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Hon. Maureen Hinda; Chairperson of the Swakara Board, Mr Raimar von Hase; stakeholders in the Swakara industry and the Chinese delegation. “This is history in the making,” Mr von Hase said as he opened the event. “For the first time, the Swakara Board is hosting a delegation from China who are eager to learn about Swakara farming in Namibia. We are indeed honoured and hope that our visitors will fall in love with this uniquely Namibian product and indeed the country itself.”

Background:

The Swakara/Karakul Board of Namibia is a state-owned enterprise which governs the Swakara Industry in Namibia by act of parliament. Agra, by agreement with the Board, is the sole sorting and marketing agent of Swakara pelts. Kopenhagen Fur is the largest fur auction house in the world where Swakara pelts are sold on auction bi-annually. In collaboration with Kopenhagen Fur, Denmark, the Swakara Board of Namibia promotes and sells Swakara pelts to the worldwide fur industry. China is currently the biggest end user market for furs in the world.