Most SMEs in Swaziland are aware of standards and tend to implement the minimum achievable quality measures and or use “inhouse” standards. These “inhouse” standards are mostly formulated from tried and tested procedures. The local economic environment has posed a serious challenge to local SME’s as they face difficulties with issues such as access to markets and financing amongst others. Because of this they often find themselves in financial dire straits thus view standardisation as a costly process and believe that the market they cater for does not justify such. The prior absence of a National Standards Body coupled with the lack of expertise made it difficult for them to explore standards related issues.
Of note is that the SME sector in Swaziland is dominated by indigenous trades such as handicraft whereby historical and cultural backgrounds have provided the main source of “training” to its participants thus there are no standards to guide them. Experience and skills passed from generation to generation have kept the sector alive, though it is challenged by lack of reasonable growth mainly caused by ever changing market demands and economic conditions.
The Swaziland Standards Authority, therefore, aims at uplifting SMEs by providing standards information, writing and/or developing internationally recognised Swazi standards that will cater for all SMEs including those dealing in indigenous products. Standards based training will also be on offer once standards have been developed, adapted and or implemented, for SMEs to fully appreciate the benefits that the concept has to offer.
Given that the process of implementing standards and further being certified is a costly exercise SWASA will encourage SMEs to carry out this process one step at a time, and the Authority will be with them every step of the way. Most importantly though is they have to take the first step which is acquisition of the standard(s) that relate(s) to their business, after which they will then go about putting in place the structures and systems that will ensure that at some point in the future they may fully implement the standard(s) and further seek certification. If one may say, in the initial stages they may seek to be “standards friendly.”
Some of the benefits that SMEs will realise will include:
- Increased customer confidence and satisfaction, thus reducing complaints.
- Increased productivity, due to appropriate utilisation of resources, less wastages and optimised machine efficiencies.
- Qualification for trade in restricted areas both within the country and abroad. E.g. locally they may qualify to supply the bigger enterprises with raw material and other products, thus reducing the country’s reliance on foreign markets for such supplies.
- Reduced accidents and a healthy work environment.
The Quality Assurance Department will be the custodians of the SWASA mark for quality as it is through this department that quality testing and certification will be carried out. The department’s functionality will depend on local industry utilizing the Swazi National Standards that will have been developed by the Technical Department and further seeking to be certified ...
SWASA will be disseminating standards addressing technical problems in various sectors and will be encompassing many professions. People involved in these sectors and others will be invited o partake in Technical Committees. The sectors already identified are:
- Fresh Produce
- Prepackaged stuff ...
- In order for the people to be able to implement the standards, they must understand exactly what is implied in the various paragraphs within the standard. Standards-based training may be facilitated by SWASA staff or it may be done by a subcontracting company. Based on the type of standards that are on demand it is envisaged that SWASA may offer more than 10 courses per year. Training on standards forms part of the Standards Marketing Strategy of SWASA, since, as more people understand standards, the more they will be willing to implement them ...
The Swaziland Standards Authority’s Information Centre is a reference point for technical information on standards and quality issues within the Technical Department, and its basic objective is to provide a means for acquiring and disseminating information on standards and related matters from and to the stakeholders. Information is availed to SWASA clients and general public through the print media, radio, the SWASA website www.swasa.co.sz and by visiting the Centre ...