Locals want certification simplified as KEBS insists on quality

Novamont Kenya Limited founder and CEO Tabitha Mutinda wants KEBS certification and standardisation process made simpler for local entrepreneurs. (Standard)
Local manufacturers have urged Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to reduce the cost of certification and simplify the process to encourage them to join the manufacturing sector.

Novamont Kenya Limited founder Tabitha Mutinda, the company that is behind the new environment-friendly bags known as CassaBag while speaking to The Standard Digital termed the process tedious and not for the faint-hearted.
“The process of certification is tedious. The paperwork is involving and takes a lot of time and you have to be ready to spend,” she said when asked how she managed to get her product in the market.
She said the challenge comes when one has everything and is rearing to go, but cannot put anything in the market until he or she is cleared.
“The market is not static. It can be favourable today and tomorrow things have changed, so sometimes one can run into losses even before you start because by the time you are cleared to operate, many things have changed,” she said.
Another Kenyan, an entrepreneur who is pursuing certification for her beauty products shared her frustrations with Standard Digital but did not want to be quoted for fear of being wrongly perceived as fighting a government agency.
She said if things don’t change for the better, women entrepreneurs would be forced to keep product innovation and trade to themselves which would discourage growth.
“There are many products which are developed every day, especially by women and are still being marketed on a small scale because women entrepreneurs have given up on the certification and compliance processes,” she said, adding that if such products could be certified and integrated into value chains the economy would grow.
Some of the entrepreneurs claim they have lost their innovations through the certification process where one is taken round and round before everything flops and other people, some of whom are from the certification agencies, take up the idea.
KEBS has, however downplayed the challenges that come with certification and instead encouraged local entrepreneurs to take certification positively and ensure their products are of high quality.
The KEBS Director of Market Surveillance, Caroline Outa, says the agency has set lower rates for SMEs to encourage youth and upcoming entrepreneurs to embrace certification.
“As much as we want to encourage the youth to get into business, we have to ensure what reaches our consumers is of high quality,” she said.
“The process involves independent evaluation of each and every product depending on the category.”
Outa said they have tried to make the certification simple for the youth and women, but in most cases the beneficiaries have disappointed them hence the move to make certification and standardisation stringent.
“We once gave a woman catering services, but she gave us unsafe food and we ended up with food poisoning,” she said.
Join us tomorrow  April 30, 2019, for KTN Kenya’s Transform Kenya forum as we engage stakeholders in through quality control, industry and trade space on matters standardization live on KTN NEWS from 6pm.

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KEBS Director of Market SurveillanceCaroline OutaKEBSKenya Bureau of StandardsNovamont Kenya Limited