MBS holds an inception workshop for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

Mar 7, 2014

A CROSS SECTION OF PARTICIPANTS AT THE WORKSHOP. PHOTO: UNDP MALAWI

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and its partners, the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) organized a workshop for Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) on compliance with Quality and Food Management Systems under the Development of a robust Standardization, Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Metrology (SQAM) Infrastructure in Malawi Project.  

The objectives of the workshop were to assess the challenges for SMEs in achieving certification of goods and services and to sensitize selected Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and key lead institutions about the existence of trainings and technical assistance for SMEs towards implementation of ISO 9001 and ISO 22000 management systems under the SQAM project, as well as to explain to the lead institutions the importance of getting involved in such programme.

ISO 9001 and ISO 22000 are generic standards that can apply to any organisation irrespective of size. ISO 9001 focuses on systematic approach to managing processes in an organisation in order to consistently achieve desired products that meet customer and regulatory requirements. ISO 22000 focuses on systematic approach to managing processes in an organisation in order to consistently meet food safety and food suitability requirements for food products.

In his opening remarks; the Deputy Director of Industry, in the Ministry of Trade, Mr. Clement Phangaphanga thanked the participants for their continued commitment and for attending the workshop. Mr. Phangaphanga explained the significance of SMEs to the development of the country and urged the participants to eagerly contribute to all discussions of the workshop.

“SMEs are the bed lock; they are the cause and the reasons of SQAM. It gives not only pleasure but also pride to be associated with this project, I therefore encourage you all to participate fully in this workshop”, he explained.

According to Mr. Willy Muliya, the Nation Project Coordinator for MBS the SQAM project is important to Malawian producers as it will reduce the costs they incur to get products accredited. 

“Our aim is to try to get MBS accredited internationally. Currently, producers send their products to South Africa to be tested by the internationally accredited bodies. The cost for doing this is very high and is born by us the producers. If the products is tested here in Malawi by MBS, it means once exported, it will have to be retested by the accredited bodies” he explained.

The workshop also enlightened the participants on quality assurance and product certification, which are important tools for ensuring that a consumer/end-user accesses a product/service of acceptable quality.

By the end of the workshop, the participants got a common understanding and appreciation of the importance and relevance of the programme to their mandates and operations of SMEs. The team also finalized the criteria for selection of SMEs to participate in the programme. .

The SQAM project is being funded by UNDP, European Union (EU), Government of Malawi and the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS). The project will run from 2012 to 2016 and has a total budget of $12,710,911. Out of this budget, EU and UNDP jointly committed $5.5 million to cover technical assistance towards accreditation of MBS and acquisition of modern equipment.

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