ZimTrade, once again, demonstrated its commitment to continued innovation and continual improvement when it earned the seal of the National Quality Management Systems Assessment Body, the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ), on 10 July 2017, having successfully met the requirements of the new ISO 9001:2015 version of the Standard. The certificate handover ceremony was held at the ZimTrade Head Office, on Friday 21 July 2017. The ISO 9001:2015 Standard explicitly emphasises the integration of risk-based thinking into all business processes as a tool to create and protect shareholder value.
In her certificate acceptance speech, ZimTrade CEO, Ms. S. P. Pilime, quoted the acting ISO Secretary General, Kevin McKinley’s ISO 9001:2015 launch remarks that, “ISO 9001:2015 allows organisations to adapt to a changing world. It enhances an organisation’s ability to satisfy its customers and provides a coherent foundation for growth and sustained success”.
Commenting on the relevance of the certification to ZimTrade, Ms. Pilime said “As the national Trade Development and Promotion Organisation, we have continually led by example so as to inspire industry to attain and adhere to international standards. Trends in today’s business world confirm that Certification is the de facto label of excellence. Suppliers who have recognised Business Management Systems Certifications have an advantage over those who are not certified.”
The certification underscores ZimTrade’s unwavering commitment to implement internationally recognised Business Management System practices as a vehicle to deliver on its mandate sustainably.
Also commenting on the value of the certification to ZimTrade at the same occasion, SAZ Director General, Dr. Eve Gadzikwa, said “I believe that as the regional nerve centre for effective trade information, ZimTrade is poised to effectively serve its stakeholders. Its certification to ZWS ISO 9001:2015 is a testimony of its commitment to continually improve its services and service delivery channels.”
ZimTrade has successfully maintained certification for 23 years. The Organisation made history in 1994 when it became the first Trade Development and Promotion Organisation to be ISO 9001 Certified in Africa. It was set on this course by the then EU-funded ZimTrade Support Programme (ZSP), which ran from 1992-1997 to ensure that the Organisation delivers quality service through consistency, clear systems and continuous improvement.
As testimony to this, in 2013, ZimTrade strategically embarked on the A.I.M. (Assess. Improve. Measure.) for results programme run by the International Trade Centre (ITC), Geneva, a UN organisation. This ITC programme is devised to assist Trade and Investment Support Institutions (TISI) to improve their business practices and performance. The areas of focus for the programme were, Leadership and Direction; Resources and Processes; Products and Service Delivery; and, Measurement and Results.
In A.I.M, “Assess” refers to the benchmarking exercise carried out in 2013 where ZimTrade attained a score of 30.83%, while the Performance Improvement Road Map (PIRM) was implemented to “Improve” the organisation’s systems and processes. ZimTrade was then re-benchmarked in 2016, a year earlier than targeted, and it achieved a score of 62.99%, that is, the “Measure” aspect of the programme. This impressive improvement placed ZimTrade as the current top scorer of the 18 Trade Promotion Organisations (TPOs) assessed in Africa and is in the top quartile of all TPOs so far assessed globally. This remarkable outcome was a result of ZimTrade’s commitment to perform against globally recognised good practice.
The conformity assessment process was carried out by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe, in two stages. The first stage was a rigorous Document Evaluation Audit carried out during the first week of April 2017, in which zero non-conformities were raised. The Certification Audit (Stage 2) was carried out between 26 and 30 May 2017. The three non-conformities raised where then cleared during a follow-up audit in mid-June 2017, in which ZimTrade was then recommended to the Registration Approval Board for certification, which then made the decision 10 July 2017. The certificate is valid for three years and subject to surveillance audits annually during the certification period.
As the national trade development and promotion organisation, ZimTrade has taken practical steps to deliver valued services to its clients. For example, since April 2016, ZimTrade has been working with PUM, a Netherlands-based Organisation of Senior Experts that works with enterprises in developing countries. PUM offers technical expertise to enterprises aimed at improving production efficiencies and product quality, among others. So far, over 30 enterprises in the horticulture, leather and Leather products, clothing and textiles as well as engineering sectors have benefited from PUM expertise.
ZimTrade also continually creates awareness to companies on the need to consider business sustainability issues, including, environmentally friendly production processes, good labour practices and product certification, among others. ZimTrade recognises the efforts of companies that take business sustainability issues into consideration in their operations. Business sustainability is one of the criterion used in selecting winners for the ZimTrade Annual Exporter of the Year Awards.
In the last five years, the 25-year-old Organisation has relentlessly pursued a transformational strategy that has resulted in it becoming a world class TPO.
In closing, the ZimTrade CEO implored Zimbabwean companies, especially exporters, to also pursue certification to internationally recognised standards as a strategy to gain a competitive edge in global markets.
Publish Date: Monday 31 July 2017