Small and medium entrepreneurs were not getting the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) certificates as they had no idea of how to get it. So, the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Foundation has come forward to help the entrepreneurs in this regard.
The foundation believes that their programmes will enable companies to gain the confidence of buyers in the domestic market and help SME entrepreneurs to export their products.
So far, the SME Foundation has trained representatives of 90 organisations, 13 of which have got the ISO certificate.
The SME Foundation has been training entrepreneurs to get ISO certification since 2013. For this, the SME Foundation has adopted a programme titled "Technology Up-gradation through Implementation of Food Safety Management System for ISO 22000: 2018."
Under the programme, the foundation informs the entrepreneurs about implementing the international standard ISO 22000 standard in their organisations and obtaining the certificate.
SME Foundation Managing Director Md Mofizur Rahman told The Business Standard, "We provide training in applying Good Manufacturing Practice in the organisations. We provide all the training as per the ISO standards to overcome all the health risks in the process starting from food production and ending at its consumption."
"We train them to take all the safety measures. The better the institutions are, the more developed the country will be. So, we are helping entrepreneurs build quality institutions," he added.
The ISO certification is important in various activities of businesses including participation in international tenders, achievement of standards, and prevention of losses. This certificate assures the consumers of the quality of products and services in the international arena as well as in the country. The businesses increase their brand value through publicity as soon as they get ISO certification.
KPC Industries, a paper cup manufacturer in Rupganj upazila of Narayanganj, is one such company that gained ISO certificate in 2018.
Sajidur Rahman, managing director of the company, told The Business Standard, "The SME Foundation's training has made it easier for us to get ISO certificates. We understood what we needed to do."
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, this company used to export paper cups, but now they are not exporting as the demand in the local market has increased significantly.
Sajidur Rahman said, "The ISO certificate increases the brand value of an organisation. Foreign companies show interest in buying products of ISO certified companies. Our list of corporate customers includes Pepsi, Nestlé, and Unilever."
The SME Foundation is also raising awareness on various issues including Food Safety Management System (FSMS), Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) for the development of the agro-processing sector.
The SME Foundation is conducting a multi-faceted programme including technical assistance in obtaining international standard certificates by providing training in this regard. It is providing technical advice and institutional linkages for product development, production of versatile new products, appropriate modern packaging, etc.
The SME Foundation also organises programmes to encourage the entrepreneurs to obtain ISO certificate. It publishes ads about their training programme and contacts the associations of manufacturers. Then the foundation selects industries and provides a seven-day training called "Professional Development Course on Food Safety Management System-ISO22000: 2018" to their representative.
During the training, the SME Foundation arranges visits to an ISO certified company for the trainees, so that they can gather practical knowledge. The SME Foundation then appoints short-term consultants for each of the organisations interested in obtaining ISO certificate. The foundation also assists businesses in preparing the necessary paperwork and documentation for the process.
After an organisation applies for ISO certification, an internal audit is performed and the organisation's practices are examined against the international standards. ISO certification depends on this audit and the SME Foundation also provides training on how to prepare the audit reports.
SME Foundation Managing Director Md Mofizur Rahman said, "The Food Safety Management System (FSMS) implementation programme is underway in 10 more industrial establishments in FY2020."
The 13 organisations that gained ISO certificate after the SME Foundation's training are Well Food Limited, FM Plastic Industries Limited, Century Farms Limited, Hifs Agro Food Industries, Ahmed Food Products Private Limited, Inada Inc, Arku Foods; KPC Industry Limited, Raj Kamal Everbest Corporation, Eco Technologies Limited, Mark Ice-cream Factory, Greentech Agro Limited, and Nur Foods Limited.
Humayun Kabir, managing director of Mark Ice-cream Factory, told TBS that the SME Foundation provides step-by-step training to produce world-class products and improve the environment in the organisation.
"This provides the overall solutions to problems in achieving the ISO certificate. We can perceive if we have any lacking in any area," he added.
The International Organisation for Standardisation or ISO is headquartered in Switzerland. The organisation itself does not issue any certificate, but creates and develops different types of standards. The certification bodies of different countries provide ISO certificate by monitoring companies according to the standards of the organisation. BSTI, the only government regulatory body in the country, is currently issuing the ISO certificates.