The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has partnered with USAID to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to improve the quality of their products, services and systems.

This follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UNBS and USAID Feed the Future (FtF) Uganda Inclusive Agricultural Markets (IAM) Activity.

The MoU aims at increasing product certification in the areas of health, safety and food processing.

It also aims at increasing standards awareness and conformity requirements among MSMEs.

The MoU also aims at building capacity and certification of private labs to conduct product (health and safety) conformity tests.

It also increases awareness campaigns on the need for the population to consume quality certified products

During the MoU signing, the UNBS Deputy Executive Director in charge of Standards, Ms. Patricia Bageine Ejalu, noted that MSMES are a crucial engine of Uganda’s economy, thus the need to harness their opportunities through technical support to enable them comply with the relevant standards requirements.

“Many MSMEs have been affected by COVID-19 but we are trying to see how we can boost quality and standards awareness among them. We need to get people to understand why standards are important. We need them to appreciate standards to unlock their potential to access both national and regional markets,” Ms Bageine said.

She further called for MSMEs to work through associations for easy access of the support from UNBS.

UNBS executive director David Livingstone Ebiru. PHOTO/COURTESY

The Chief of Party of the USAID FtF Uganda IAM Activity, Mr. Collins Apuoyo, revealed that their wish is to see more MSMEs acquire UNBS certification.

“We believe that creating a good relationship between UNBS and MSMEs goes a long way in strengthening service delivery. We also believe that this MoU will fulfil our vision of enrolling more MSMEs for UNBS certification,” said Mr Apuoyo.

The activity seeks to increase incomes of households through agriculture-led inclusive economic growth in 38 districts in Northern, Eastern and Western Uganda.

This will be through a market development approach, which capacitates local actors especially the public and private sectors to upgrade practices and technologies required to increase productivity and profitability.

The partnership  comes at a time when UNBS has embarked on supporting MSMEs and the entire private sector to improve their products, services and systems to promote Buy Uganda Build Uganda in the country and internationally.

This is through reduced UNBS product certification fees, introduction of Batch certification and Pre-market approval programs and provision of free standards for select products to MSME Groups or Associations.

The support is also through decentralization of UNBS Services to Regional Offices of Mbale, Gulu and Mbarara to increase access and reduce the cost of seeking services from Kampala.