6 August 2012

East Africa: SMEs Ready for East African Market

Morogoro — SMALL and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs) in dairy and edible oil industries are set for competition in the East African market.

This was revealed by SMEs at a show organised by the Small and Medium Enterprises Competitiveness Facility (SCF) in collaboration with Sokoine University of Agriculture - Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness (SUA - DAEA) at the Top Life Hotel in Morogoro.

According to the Kalali Women Dairy Cooperative Society Limited Chairperson, Ms Nancy Manasseh, dairy products from Kenya have flooded markets in Kilimanjaro Region and are posing a big challenge to local products. "Kenyan dairy products have flooded our markets simply because they are packed in attractive materials, they are well labelled, they have signs showing that they have met all required standards and are being advertised a lot.

"Now that we have been trained on how to improve on our products, we are sure that we are going to meet the required standards which will see our products obtaining standard seal like that of Tanzanian Bureau of Standards (TBS) and a certificate of compliance from Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) as well as having them registered by GS1 Tanzanian for the barcodes.

"In this way we will be able to supply our local and the regional market with products of internationally acceptable standards," said Ms Manasseh. Mr Michael Mtalika, the Director General for Sunflower Seeds Oil and Cake Agency Company (SSOCA) Limited based in Singida Region, said despite having labelled their products, the competition was still very stiff on their side as they were not sure on how to go about it to obtain TBS seal as well as meeting other standards.

"This training has been an eye opener in terms of how to go about it before we meet the requirements of obtaining the TBS seal and other quality standards. "We have realized that we were far much behind in meeting these requirements although our products were seen as safe for human consumption. When we go back, we are going to improve on areas holding us back from reaching our targeted markets," said Mr Mtalika.

Mr Jeremiah Theogene, Director General for Yesha Dairy Processing Industry (YDPI), concurred with other trainees that the training has managed to equip them with business management skills. SCF's Business Manager Mr Michael Bulemo said that the training has managed to meet its target of trying to equip participants with the following skills -- financial management skills, marketing, inventory management, cost structure, working capital planning, supply chain alignment, and quality and safety standards issues.

Mr Bulemo said it is time for Tanzania entrepreneurs to try as much as possible to improve on the quality of their products if they want to favourably compete in this East African common market. "As SCF, we aim at assisting SMEs to meet quality standards required so that their goods can be easily certified to have the right standard. It is not true that there is bureaucracy in obtaining standard seal -- like that of TBS -- but it is our SMEs who might not know what is required.

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