Retail Charter gains to take long: SMEs Compete

SMEs Compete says economic development initiatives and long term business growth strategies, such as the Retail Charter will take several years for their impact to be felt.
SMEs Compete Director, Danny Meyer, told the Windhoek Observer that complacency should be avoided in the implementation of the Retail Charter.
“Economic development initiatives and longer term business growth strategies, such as the Retail Charter, is a process and not an event. So it will, in all likelihood, take several years before the impact is measurable.
“In the meanwhile, complacency should be avoided and where short comings are seen then there must be no hesitation on the part of private and public sector actors to point out shortcomings, flaws, hindrance’s or obstacles so that changes or improvements are made to the Retail Charter, when and where necessary or appropriate.”
Meyer applauded the Retail Charter launched over five months ago, as an excellent initiative and noble aim.  He said if applied with the seriousness it deserves, over the coming years, more locally produced goods would be found on the shelves, racks and hangers of retail outlets around the country.
‘There should commitment in making it work,” Meyer said.
He said finding ways to address impediments or obstacles standing in the way of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to getting their merchandise into larger and more retail outlets, should be given priority. 
“The gains of the recently launched Retail Charter will take a bit longer before they could be realised by the targeted sectors as many of these entities were taking longer to address issues such as packaging, delivery requirements and expanded productivity as required by the retailers,” he said.
On the impact of the Retail Charter so far, Meyer said, “It is already happening”.
“As an example, one already sees more and more local products on supermarket shelves. However, there is no room for complacency. Large or corporate firms who have not yet made a concerted effort to source locally must walk the talk. Constantly explore ways to accommodate more local producers.
“For many who have not yet found local producers meeting their specific needs, a good starting point would be to work with entities that have an enterprise and entrepreneurial development agenda like SMEs Compete,” Meyer said.
He noted that many small enterprises were losing out by not listening to what large retailers asked for in terms of packaging, labelling, quality standards and delivery time frames.
“Far too many MSMEs are taking too long to address packaging issues, to meet delivery requirements and to expand production capacity. In defence of the owners of smaller enterprises, they continue to face challenges, for example, when it comes to accessing funding to buy equipment needed to expand production, technical advice on product and packaging improvement, and to market wider than in their domestic market,” Meyer added.

In a recent interview, Pick n Pay Namibia Managing Director, Norbert Wurm, said there were numerous challenges facing smaller local suppliers ranging from the inability to provide regular supply, quality inconsistencies, and supply chain challenges due to the impact of drought on local farmers.
Wurm said to date they had listed a number of smaller local suppliers and discussions were underway with numerous others.
He, however, said it is important to understand that it takes more time for small suppliers to meet the stringent quality, health and safety requirements as well as to meet the volume demands of a large retailer.
The Namibia Trade Forum (NTF) also recently said that tangible benefits of the Retail Charter would only be felt once formulation of a governance council as well as the drafting of the terms of reference for the Charter was complete.
The lobby group said the process is expected to be completed by November with the election of a council, which will oversee and monitor the implementation of the Charter as well as ensure consistency in its implementation going forward.
The council, comprised of both private and public sector players, would then oversee the annual assessments that would be conducted to monitor compliance to the Retail Charter.