Why smother SMEs with accreditations? | Fin24

Why smother SMEs with accreditations?

Jun 02 2014 18:07
A fledgling small business owner, who is lamenting the cost of getting that vitally important pieces of paper, wants to know whose business is it anyway? He writes:

THE other day an overweight woman with a clipboard visited me wanting to offer health and safety advice for my small business.

You see you need a host of accreditations nowadays. The more acronyms the better. We want HACCPP and BRC and...

We supply goods to the food industry. Not edible stuff - but the outside wrapping and the paper that often is used to wrap fish and chips deep-fried in rancid oil. Quite understandably the shops would like their paper delivered free of animal by-products, mold and factory floor grime but nowadays its got completely out of control.

Chubby cheeks liked our setup since the place is basically spotless. Flies get electrocuted if they enter the building and the floor looks like Cavendish square after cleaning day. However she made a couple of ‘findings’ - our ceiling was all-wrong and would need to be changed (R800 000) and we needed a new forklift since ours is diesel (R300 000).

This business is eighteen months old and I flatly refuse to spend this kind of money. I pointed out that all our delivery trucks are diesel so why care about an electric forklift if the product is anyway going to be loaded into a diesel truck? It’s not like Elon Musk is running my re-delivery service.

It’s on the list on the clipboard she said and that was that.

The roof: the roof is wobbly and needs to be flat. I have no idea why. We can’t get this vital slip of paper unless our roof isn’t wobbly.

None of the customers we supply have ever asked me the style of roof we work under but we needed this accreditation to supply a key product to a large supermarket. I eventually got the hell in and imported the finished product from China, instead of producing it under our wobbly roof.

Imports are fine, exempt from this sort of nonsense. If they had used child labour working under a straw roof in the jungle for our order I would be none the wiser. (We had a piece of paper that said that they promised that they didn’t.)

Then there’s BEE. Or maybe it’s BBBBBBEEEE. I need a certificate for the wall behind my desk. So I called one of those companies that advertise on the radio.

My business is tiny. I am pretty pale and so is my secretary, although looking at her lineage it is a little odd. It’s vital for our certificate to get exact clarification on her race since this may sway our rating. Her mom was certified coloured during the apartheid days but her dad was pretty white.
I called this 'BEE and your business' company – comically located in Hendrik Verwoed drive. I wanted to know where I could send her to get her race certified. They said Home Affairs. Only Home Affairs thought I was some lunatic throwback from the Apartheid era when I called with my problem.

The outcome is pending. I think I will circle both on the questionnaire.

I get the idea with all of this but it mystifies me that out there walking the streets and mingling among us are a whole tribe of bureaucrats that live happily in the misguided belief that they are doing some social good. Very sadly it looks like - in the next few weeks – I will need to employ one of them.

- Fin24

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