The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Institute (SMEDI) has challenged Zomba based SMEs to seize opportunities as the environment avails them. The challenge was made during opening ceremony of a two days food hygiene and labeling training that was held at Mulunguzi Riverside Lodge in Zomba on Thursday, 18 August 2022.
“Recently there was news here in Zomba that Shoprite was closing its shop. Admittedly this is not good as it has its other implications. However, us as Zomba SMEs does this not create an opportunity for us to close the gap that will be vacated by shoprite? Look at the war in Ukraine and its subsequent supply chain logistics failures, are there no opportunities for us to supply the market with our products?” Asked Mr. Edward Chilima who is the Director of Business Information and Training at the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Institute (SMEDI).
The training drew 25 participants from the eastern region. The SMEs include those processing honey, soya porridge, sausage making, chilli sauce, juices and oyster mushroom farmers. “These are good products I have seen you are producing. However, if these products don’t get certified they will not find their way in leading chain stores hence offering these trainings to you for free” said Mr. Chilima. He was quick to point out that SMEs must know that sacrifices in resources are being made by SMEDI and MBS to make such trainings possible. He cited an example where MBS will start offering the same training at a cost of MK101, 000 per participant, yet under this arrangement the SMEs are not paying for anything. ”Our appeal is for you SMEs to utilize these opportunities. There are many opportunities out there. There are grants and other government programs that you can
utilize to benefit your enterprises. However some of you miss out on such opportunities because you are not inquisitive enough” said Mr. Chilima.
The trainings are part of the mutually agreed upon activities under the Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) between SMEDI and MBS. So far about 500 SMEs have been trained since last year. Also under the MOU all SMEs that have been referred by SMEDI to MBS for certification are eligible for a 50% discount on all certification fees. The MOU tenure is due to end this year in December.
“From our perspective (SMEDI) since we entered into this MOU we have seen a rise in number of SMEs being certified, an increase in those that are demanding information relating to certification and an increase in the number of SMEs that are positioning themselves to meet the certification process. This gives us enough conviction to engage MBS with the view of renewing the MOU so that more SMEs benefit” concluded Mr. Chilima.
In his remarks Mr. Aonenji Kumvenji, Senior Certification Officer who represented the MBS Acting Director General of Malawi Bureau of Standards urged SMEs to take the trainings serious. He also mentioned that the offering of these trainings is in no way an indication that MBS will lower its standards simply for the sake of certifying SMEs. He also indicated that forums like these are crucial to eliminating misconceptions of MBS as a hindrance to business development.