For Ugandan food and beverage companies competing on the domestic market, seal of approval from the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) is key.
However, it can be a daunting undertaking for smaller and newer businesses (MSMEs). To get the UNBS Quality Mark, manufacturers commit to regular surveillance by surprise inspections and testing of samples, drawn both from the market and factory. Women entrepreneurs in particular are up against additional barriers. To help woman-led MSMEs overcome these barriers to their growth, SITA’s Mitreeki Agro-processor Advancement Programme (MAAP) provides training and coaching to Ugandan agripreneurs on how to get the UNBS Quality Mark.
In 2019, SITA began supporting Rojano Investments Company Ltd – a Ugandan winery founded and run by Ms. Janet Rajano. Now, two years later, they have now successfully received national quality certification for table wine.
Product certification enables Agro-processors to grow their companies
Thanks to its new certification, Rojano’s sales are set to rise and the company to grow.
There are other benefits too. Product certification, such as the UNBS stamp, protects brands from unfair competition from inferior products. The consumer also benefits: consumers can make quick purchasing decisions, confident of their health, thanks to certification they know, trust and can recognise easily on product labels. In a similar vein at the country level, quality marks help governments to be able to recognize each other’s products and therefore facilitate trade. All this contributes to a flourishing food and beverage market.
How does supporting agro-processors contribute to Development?
A flourishing food and beverage market contributes directly to economic growth. But what’s more, agro-processing is a key subsector in the Agri value chain. Since processing agricultural goods adds value, when we support Agri-Processors, there is a positive ripple effect for the whole supply chain. Since more East Africans are engaged in agricultural work than any other industry, supporting Agri supply chains to develop and strengthen stands to lift millions out of poverty through access to decent work – Sustainable Development Goal 8.
Agro-processing is also a women-friendly sector. And women’s economic empowerment is one of the surest routes to sustainable social development.
How does SITA help agro-processing companies like Rojano?
Women ‘agripreneurs’ are up against a particular set of challenges, specific to women and specific to East Africa. SITA designed a needs-based curriculum aimed specifically at them. The Mitreeki Agro-processor Advancement Programme (MAAP) combined training with one-to-one mentoring and peer-to-peer support. Women not only built their skills, they also changed their behaviours and approach and came away with more effective business practices.
As well as MAAP in Uganda, SITA also ran several editions of the MAAP in neighbouring Tanzania and Rwanda.