Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) with support from the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU) has granted free product certification (Q-Mark) to over 500 Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) that are producing over 700 Products across various sectors as part of the COVID 19 Economic Recovery and Resilience Response Program (CERRRP) funded by the Mastercard Foundation under the Quality and Standards Component at the cost of USD 500,000.
According to Mr. David Livingstone Ebiru, the Executive Director of Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), this is part of the Bureau’s interventions to subsidize the cost of product certification as one of the measures to improve the safety and quality of locally manufactured products and increase their access to both domestic and international markets.
He highlighted additional interventions taken by the Bureau to reduce the cost of doing business for the MSMEs which include automation and online access of UNBS Services and decentralization of Testing Laboratories and other Conformity Assessment Services to the Regional Offices of Mbale, Gulu and Mbarara.
Mr. Ebiru reiterated the need for a Special Fund to support MSMEs certify their products for the initial year so that they can meet the minimum safety and quality standards required to access the Markets. He applauded the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU) for considering UNBS request to help the financially constrained MSMEs who were facing challenges with payment of certification charges.
He however decried the poor quality culture among MSMEs, especially those involved in informal production from ungazetted locations such as go-downs, backyards, and garages which are responsible for the high prevalence of substandard products on the Market.
He, therefore, appealed to Enterprises involved in any form of manufacturing and production to formalize their businesses and operate in an open so in order to benefit from available interventions aimed at supporting them improve the quality of their products.
He also urged the Start-Up MSMEs to focus on the production of one product at a time in order to effectively manage their quality and optimize the cost of certification. The beneficiary Enterprises have been granted UNBS Q-Mark Permits for the initial 1st year and are expected to sustain payment for subsequent renewals of these Permits thereafter.
The Project Manager for the COVID-19 Economic Recovery and Resilience Response Program (CERRRP), Mr. Allan Ssendyona thanked UNBS for optimising the use of the $500,000 fund to certify more MSMEs than the original number estimated.
He pledged additional support to MSMEs who are committed to producing quality products and will ensure their progress is closely monitored.
Mr. Steven Asiimwe, the Executive Director of the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU) assured the MSMEs of the emerging markets within the Region and beyond which can absorb most of the Ugandan-made products so long as they can meet the required quality and quantity.
He informed MSMEs of other opportunities available to support the youth and women, as well as those involved in exports.
He thanked the Bureau for being a reliable and effective partner in implementing such critical interventions which are aimed at supporting the growth of the private sector and pledged more collaborations in the future.
Mr. Charles Musekuura, the Chairperson of the UNBS National Standards Council (NSC), is committed to ensuring that the costs of product certification are affordable in order to promote the quality culture among manufacturers they are expected to voluntarily comply with the standards in order to reduce the cost of enforcement by UNBS.
He urged the MSMEs to also pay close attention to the Branding and Packaging of their products which are equally critical in making their products competitive on the market. He congratulated the beneficiaries of the UNBS-PSFU free certification scheme and encouraged them to sustain the implementation of quality standards in their businesses going forward in order to reap the benefits in the long run.
The Minster of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Francis Mwebesa thanked the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU) for complementing the Government’s effort of reducing the cost of doing business by funding the over 500 MSMEs who are struggling from limited access to financing due to the high-interest rates and lack of collateral security used for borrowing from the Financial Institutions.
He appreciated the intervention in improving the quality of locally made products so that they can be competitive in the market, especially for Export Markets. He pledged continued Government support to the Private Sector are key Partner contributing to the economic development and transformation of the Country.