SMEs decry lengthy process of acquiring standardization mark permits

Sunday February 2 2020

SMEs

SMEs truggle to get access to Standardisation Mark licence. PHOTO | FILE 

ARAFAT MUGABO
By ARAFAT MUGABO
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Young entrepreneurs in Rwanda are struggling to get access to Standardisation Mark licence, with some saying the process take over two years to complete.

While sustaining a start-up is a nightmare, young investors say the process of setting up and attain quality permits is challenging.

Top on the list of the frustrations is the rigorous licensing and registration processes, long waiting periods and exorbitant fees.

Entrepreneurs who talked to Rwanda Today said the reality on the ground is that setting up and running a small scale manufacturing business in Rwanda is not as efficient and easy as it is often to be.

“We are really disturbed by the complex requirements which are costly by the Rwanda Standard Board (RSB) that only affordable to well established and stable companies or investors but not young entrepreneurs,” said Daniel Kwizera, managing director of Urugwiro Technology in Agro-processing Service (UTAS) Ltd.

Mr Kwizera said there is a long list of requirements but the most challenging ones are a directive that they must operate in the industrial zone, with industrial turbine ventilators for those not yet in the industrial zone, product certification fees, and a long period of inspection.

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“Compliance is a headache,” said Mr Kwizera. “You have to have someone to deal with public health, the local council, tax authorities, human resources, and labor laws, which are time-consuming and significantly eat into your capital.”

Mr Kwizera said he applied for the standardisation mark permit in March last year, but he has not even met 80 per cent of the requirements for him to get the certificate.

He said there are too many demands, and attempting to meet all of them will drive start-ups out of business. “Through this rigorous and time-consuming process we spend a lot of money, which would help to push our small scale manufacturing companies to another level,” he said.

“We want the government to ease access to the quality permits because they are the passage to access international high-end markets and commercial banks,” Mr Kwizera said.

“We have approached more than four commercial banks for a loan to boost the business to be able to construct our plot secured in the industrial zone, but they all request to provide Product quality certificate which we don’t have,” he explained.

“We need the government together with Rwanda Standard Board to ease access to quality standard permits to be able to grow our businesses,” he added.

However, many Small -and-medium Industries Complain about difficulties to access standardization mark (S-Mark) officials from Rwanda Standard Board say there is no shortcut to acquiring the Standardisation mark.

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