The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has trained over 400 Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) on ways to standardise their products in line with global best practices to enable them compete favourably and earn forex.
This it pointed will further mitigate the forex crisis currently experienced in the country, as more export earnings will help in revitalizing the national economy.
The Director General of the organisation, Mallam Farouk Salim, who stated this during the question and answer section at the General Sensitisation and Training for MSMEs, themed: “Products Competitiveness: Driving Home-Grown Economy Via Standardisation,” noted that competition is what drives the world today.
He noted that in every sphere of life, there is serious competition going on and so if one has to compete, it means one must be ready, prepared and equipped to compete actively, effectively and profitably.
Charging participants that the ball is rolling in their courts towards harnessing the benefits of the Free Trade Zone, Salim pointed out that the county requires local products that are borderless; products that Nigerians in the Diaspora, quite millions of them, can patronize; standard and quality products that are acceptable and competitive anywhere across the world, particularly in Africa, “now that we are preparing for the common market- African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Nigeria, the giant should not ‘carry last’ in AfCFTA.”
Applauding the training, Salim explained that product competitiveness requires that the particular product must have been manufactured or produced in accordance with good manufacturing practice.
He appreciated the efforts of MSMEs towards growing their businesses and developing the economy, he, however asked them to do more. “Most of you have been working closely with SON to produce quality goods.
We are proud of this positive development-that SMEs and industrialists are producing good and quality products. However, we need to do more. We are encouraging all of us to do more; that is why we are bringing standardisation closer to your doorsteps. Training workshops and sensitisation programmes like this mean that SON encourages the growth of businesses and local industries.
“The product must have undergone strict adherence to standards and quality assurance benchmarks and international best practices. We, in SON, “talk the walk and walk the talk” of standardisation and quality control. We are promoting industrialisation and home-grown economy through standardisation.”
He emphasised that sub-standard products pose grave dangers not only to lives and property but to economic development of any country, standardisation results in industrial and economic growth, global acceptability and competitiveness of locally made products a.k.a made in Nigeria products and overall national development and security, among others.
“These are why SON insists on standards adherence for MSMEs across the country.”
“In fact, we have been doing a lot since I came on board, to grow the nation’s manufacturing sector. Apart from installing automated services, including e-demand, e-receipt device, we have internationally accredited laboratories including mobile labs. vans, for product testing and analyses, product certification, discounts and waivers for MSMEs, technical assistance, continuous capacity trainings, workshops and national sensitization for SMEs stakeholders and operators; among other interventions.
I am assuring you that SON is ready and willing to work with all operators in the MSMEs sector. We come to you, feel free to approach us. We are in partnership together for the overall benefits of your businesses and the nation’s industrial growth. Patronize SON services that are always on offer; we help you to churn out high-value products.”
In his goodwill message, Chairman, the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Adams Adebayo, applauded the program, saying this is the time the country needs standardisation, so that products can be widely accepted. “We need to be up and doing. Home grown economy could be achieved by us via standardisation.”
For his part, President, Association of Micro Entrepreneurs of Nigeria (AMEN), Iche Saviour, there cannot be standardisation without money, small businesses need loans with low interest rate to thrive.
“MSMEs have been neglected in the country. Government is going around the world canvassing for foreign investors, while local businesses are not encouraged. The MSMEs are in comma and need to be resuscitated.”
Vice Chairman, Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI) Lagos, Gertrude Akhimien, said MSMEs were going through a lot now.
She lamented that many small businesses have produced new products in the market that were not familiar with Nigerians and pleaded with SON to reach out to them and help develop standard for these new products as we move on to AfCFTA.
Akhimien also made case for SON to provide SMEs desk at the SON office for easy access, adding that SON should be an enabler for the SMEs to succeed.
She pointed out the need for industrial hubs to help small businesses to upscale production.” We need SON to talk to government to give us hubs. Industrial hubs where groups come together to produce products that are competitive. With the hubs, production can be upscaled.”
Other speakers made their points on promoting export and products competitiveness via quality labelling and package materials; Standardisation as an important tool for industrial development. They also threw more light on then theme of the day.