There are many benefits for an SMME to be certified by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). However, it is an expensive process so any entrepreneur looking to be certified needs to have a strong client base. But all was not hopeless as there was also a way for businesses that did not have the money to comply, according to SABS SMME manager Dumisani Mngadi, who strongly encouraged SMMEs to conform to standards.
Mngadi was speaking at “The Role of Conformity Assessment in South Africa”, which was hosted in partnership with the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA). Mngadi advised SMMEs to participate in committees that determined the standards of certification. “When an SMME knows what goes into the standards, their production areas are informed by the relevant standards that affect them,” he explained.
“(One of the reasons why) SMMEs in the detergent space fail is purely because they (aren’t) properly labelled or because they don’t have access to a particular standard or that does not even know what a standard is,” he said. “If, for example, I am labelling sanitiser, I need to mention whether it is a liquid or gel sanitiser. I would need to be able to produce information like the physical address of the company producing my product, the name of the company, company registration numbers and expiry dates.”
Mngadi also said that conforming with SABS standards would ensure that a product did not cause harm to the consumer. “(On some occasions there would be) vehicles produced with deformities and because nobody was there to test and verify if the vehicle was safe, it would lead to people getting injured,” he said. Mngadi said a certificate needed to be updated every three years.
He said companies that were compelled to produce SABS certification could present a documented Quality Management System (QMS), which was a formal record of the way an organisation manages the quality of its various services and products. Mngadi said SABS worked extensively with SMMEs to ensure that they understood the value of conforming to standards. “We have programmes where we guide SMMEs on how to comply with standards and provide certification. We also provide technical support to SMMEs and entrepreneurs on standardisation services,” he explained.
“The benefits of independent certification include identifying new business opportunities, increased new business and access to new markets because your company is certified and other companies feel (that) because of this, they can trust your product.”