Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) has urged small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country to certify their products if they are to grow their capacity and become competitive on the market.
MBS director general Symon Mandala made the call on Friday in an interview after closing a two-day training workshop on standards for SMEs in the Eastern Region.
He said: “Government is advancing the reforms agenda and the MBS is also implementing one of the reform areas which is to enhance access of MBS certification services by SMEs.
“SMEs, on the other hand, have been raising issues to do with knowledge gaps in terms of processes for having their products registered and approved by the MBS so that they can access the market and costly certification. We are thus implementing this reform area to bridge the gap and make them understand the process.”
In addition to building capacity for SMEs, Mandala said the bureau has also subsidised the cost of certification and standards fees for SMEs by 50 percent.
“We are doing this to ensure that our SMEs thrive so that they are be able to recruit others as part of businesses, in a way addressing the policy direction taken by the government on job creation,” he said.
On her part, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Institute (Smedi) regional manager for South, Lucy Limbe said the training was crucial for SMEs to unlock existing opportunities.
She said: “Most SMEs are afraid to have their products certified but in essence, the bureau is there to assist them.
“SMEs need to have their products certified to penetrate both the local and international markets without which they cannot grow.”
One of the participants at the training, Emmie Chigulira described the training as an eye-opener saying it gave her the urge to prepare and have her products certified.
She said: “I am a backyard farmer for broiler chickens and I rear quails. It has been my long-term dream to have my products certified so that I can have some doors open that I am not able to penetrate.
“I live in Monkey Bay where there are a lot of tourist attraction sites which require people to sell products that are certified because that gives assurance of the quality. I will thus tap from this training to grab such opportunities.”