By Tafara Chikumira
GOVERNMENT through the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) has moved in to capacitate Small to Medium Enterprises (SMES) through a training programme for producing quality goods that meet ISO certification standards.
Speaking to ZBC News Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Mr Moses Mhike said the training programme, which has drawn participants from marginalised communities will help them produce quality products which can take on competitive markets.
“It has been a long journey as we have been trying to capacitate our SMES. We have managed to give them reasonable loans at very low rates so that they grow. Now that most of them have established themselves, we are saying it’s time to reach out to international markets. We want them to be counted and this can only be achieved provided they produce quality products which can compete out there. So we are here to give them the necessary skills and expertise to make this a reality,” he said.
Quality Officer- Standards Association of Zimbabwe Miss Rumbidzai Svosve noted that they are convinced that local SMES have what it takes to meet the demands of the export market.
“It is interesting to note that the local SMES are growing in the way they do business by each passing day. What we have noted is that most of these SMES lack the marketing skills. Their packaging leaves a lot to be desired and we are here to ensure that we rectify their shortcomings,” said Svosve.
Participants highlighted the benefits of the training programme.
“I used to move around with a bucket full of honey selling cups. However I have learnt that I need to be distinctive and have my own brand which my customers can identify with. It is work in progress,” said one participant.
“I was limited in my scope of customers. I used to think that I have made it as I specialise in making detergents for the local market. However, this training have opened my eyes and I am now confident that the markets out there are meant for people like me. I can safely say I am ready for the world,” added another.
Official data from ZIMSTAT indicates that the SMES sector now employs over 60 percent of Zimbabwe’s productive workforce, while contributing over 50 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.