Small Micro and Medium Enterprises in Botswana have been slow in responding to the Botswana Bureau of Standards? initiative to assist them in achieving certification.
This emerged at a recent stakeholders breakfast seminar hosted by BOBS in Francistown. BOBS Managing Director, Elsie Meintjies, told the gathering that despite concerted efforts by the organization to encourage local companies to get the relevant BOBS certification, the response has been generally low but encouraging.
She pointed out that the main reason for the poor response to the BOBS initiative is because local companies think that certification is a short process that can be done overnight. She said that conversely the process is tedious and demanding as it requires quality planning, testing of goods (which can take up to 1000 continuous hours), calibration and measurements.
Meintjies, however, revealed that they have realized that many companies are unable to provide their quality planning procedures and BOBS has formulated a procedure to assist them.
The managing director also said that companies are not really bound to certify with BOBS as certification is compulsory initiative. She said that it was imperative for local companies to be BOBS certified so that they could be competitive in the international market, especially with the impending SADC trade protocol, which will allow free movement of goods within SADC borders.
?Many of the suppliers and service providers who will be competing in SADC will be certified and they will have a competitive edge over local companies? she said.
Meintjies added that BOBS is trying by all means to convince local manufacturers and service providers to certify and has embarked on a massive media campaign and also engaged in strategic partnerships with other stakeholders in a bid to facilitate easier certification by local companies.
She said that BOBS recently advertised a management systems certification program that was to be run on a cost sharing basis with local companies, the objective of which was to help local service providers to be certified, adding that local service providers responded positively to the initiative.
She told those in attendance that they had ventured into strategic partnerships with organizations like the Local Enterprenual Authority and the Department of Industrial affairs all of which are meant to facilitate easier certification by local companies.
Meintjies said that the biggest hurdle to certification was that some local companies? do not really appreciate the value of certification until after their customers demand that they provide proof of certification.
?Certification is a process that involves quality control measures, calibration and measurement, all of which take time and are expensive,? she said, adding that they had a problem with certified companies which, after certification, abdicate their responsibility of ensuring quality as they start to think that it is the responsibility of BOBS.
?Such companies are at risk of losing their certification as they do not maintain the required quality standards,? she warned. She also encouraged service providers to come for certification as, unlike manufacturers, their ISO 9001:2000 certification is not so strenuous as most of the requirements, like training, are already in place.
?In this instance, certification is just a way of putting a framework around already existing operations,? she said.