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The SMME has become a familiar sight on the South African economic landscape. This is because South Africans have proven themselves as entrepreneurs and are looking beyond the formal employment market to make a living. SMME's contribute significantly to the GDP and take a leading role in creating employment, thus alleviating poverty.

SMME's are often faced with a lack of resources, time constraints, lack of finance and little or no access to contracts. Many tenders or contractors require formal certification such as ISO 9001:2002 to be in place before they would award a contract. This problem seems insurmountable for the SMME.

The South African Bureau of Standards is aiming to create partnerships to boost the competiveness of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME's).

The main objective of these partnerships is to establish simplified guidelines for product and system certification, which will eventually prepare SMMEs for full quality management audits, thereby encouraging and supporting local enterprises to become global players.

The establishment of the technical partnership embodies the principle of quality local products, global competitiveness of local suppliers, extending mutual support, promoting common development of SMMEs and ensuring consumer protection. It accords with the broad interest of government, the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), local companies and the people of South Africa.

The SABS will provide management systems, conformity assessments and training service