By Joyce Mukucha
The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) in partnership with Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Business Council (CBC) is taking strides in trying to promote intra-trade for Small Market Enterprises (SMEs) within the COMESA region.
The two organisations are also supporting and promoting competitive and interconnected industries to actively participate as well as stimulating efficient and sustainable local supply chains systems.
Zimbabwe’s SMEs are being helped to become part of this regional agenda so as to improve trade. The trainings are aimed at buttressing the small scale farmers in line with the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area which has become a new horizon for trade in Africa.
Speaking during the ongoing two-day workshop that started in Harare on the 27th of August 2019, the ZNCC Chief Executive Officer, Christopher Mugaga highlighted that it was crucial to assist small agro processing businesses as well as building sustainable sourcing partnerships between SMEs and Corporate Companies in COMESA so that they become recognised on the local and regional market.
Promoting small markets, he indicated, would help SMEs to actively participate in regional and global markets whereby they are equipped with knowledge on how best they can come up with standards.
In an interview with Mugaga on the sidelines of the workshop, he said SMEs were facing challenges on marketing of products hence the need to train them.
“The foremost challenge we have in this country is over reliance on the small commercial businesses and farmers so we need to promote and empower them to access bigger markets.
“The workshop would definitely help especially females who are involved in agro processing business. A lot of women in Kenya have been empowered through these trainings and we expect Zimbabwean women who are into this business to be empowered as well through these business workshops. The biggest problem especially for Small Scale Markets and farmers is the acceptance of their products by the market,” he said.
The COMESA Business Council Digital Financial Inclusion Manager, Jonathan Pinifolo highlighted that after training Small scale marketers, they also link them up with potential buyers. He said there was a drive to put the countries in the COMESA region including Zimbabwe on a marketing podium whereby they can even access information from other member countries.
“The most important aspect on training is that we want to make sure that these SMEs and agribusinesses receive required training to make sure that they are producing good products that are ready to be bought by buyers. Recently we have been in Uganda doing similar trainings to help traders boost their production but also have good quality standards,” Pinifolo said.
He echoed that through such trainings, they aim at ensuring that small scale markets are capacitated to be able to take advantage of the market.
SMEs are also being trained to comply and meet the demands of the market and the buyers. This is also to understand the extent to which small marketers are able to implement the erudite practices as well as knowing if they are able to meet buyer requirements so as to help them to enter in other potential business linkages.
“We train in different COMESA countries such as Madagascar, Tanzania, and Zambia among other African nations with the idea of accessing local and regional markets supporting structures to enable small and medium sized enterprises to become large corporations.
“We urge businesses to strongly carry out a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) which is a systematic preventive approach to food safety from biological, chemical, and physical hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe and design measures to reduce these risks to a safe level,” said an International Food and Safety Expert, Anne Chepkoech.
SMEs were urged to put in place crucial steps in as much as their processing their products was concerned. The main objective was that whilst venturing into business and making profit, it is also important to identify and control hazards before they happen.
The ZNCC President, Tamuka Macheka, urged the trainees to implement the imparted knowledge to fascinate superior markets. He indicated that Zimbabwe as a nation was suffering from underproduction and under consumption. This is resulting from the fact that the country does not have enough produce. In line with this, he stressed that there was need for platforms that will help to have the produce in excess thus creating markets which then lead to big sales.