Majority of local SMEs not certified to International quality and standards
Botswana’s Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have been found lacking when it comes to quality performance.
A study conducted by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in partnership with Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) on 616 local SMEs, discovered only a small number are certified.
The study, whose results were released this week, further scored the majority of SMEs low in terms of meeting quality requirements for buyers.
Indeed, 77 percent of the firms surveyed indicated they are not certified to any quality, sustainability or other standard.
The majority of those certified are reported to hold schemes such as International Safety Certificates offered by Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS). Others hold certificates such as the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) Certificates and Horticultural Guidelines.
In terms of sectors, certification is much higher in the services sector compared to the agricultural sector.
This trend is reportedly in contrast with other countries, where certification is generally more widespread among agricultural companies.
The report found that just five percent of the interviewed agricultural enterprises were certified to international quality, safety and sustainability standards. This is said to be enough evidence to prove that Botswana farms lack the certificates increasingly required by international buyers.
Furthermore, the report states that importers of Botswana beef may prefer quality characteristics that differ from Batswana preferences such as meat tenderness, storage and safety procedures, packaging and certification.
Farmers who were interviewed for the survey reportedly indicated that water shortages prevented them from being able to meet the quality required by the market.
However, although few local firms are certified, it is believed they maybe following quality practices and communicating them to buyers in other ways.
“Some 70 percent of surveyed firms said they produced according to buyer requirements. This indicates that buyers are telling their Botswana suppliers about their market requirements, and Botswana companies are adjusting their production processes accordingly,” the report says.
This is backed up by the fact that 62 percent of the interviewed companies said they compete primarily by offering high quality products and services.
The report further notes that although most firms are seemingly aware of the quality requirements of the market and are thought to be responding to the current buyers’ requirements, their failure to adopt certification schemes means most are not signaling their quality to potential new buyers.
In light of this, the report by ITC, which is a joint agency of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and United Nations, says support for certification could help improve the quality competitiveness of Botswana SMEs for international trade.