Small businesses urged to adopt acceptable environmental practices

Before any company starts operating, the law requires that an environmental impact assessment is conducted and later a licence issued by NEMA. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • Mr Don Agaba, the head of Uganda - Employment and Skills for Development in Africa programme, said during the launch in Kampala that this training is needed both for compliance to enter into a natural resource-based sectors but also beyond. 

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) make about 70 percent of Uganda’s economy and have been cited as the engine for economic growth and development.

However, many fail to penetrate international markets with attempts at positioning themselves for emerging business opportunities  failing. 

This is mainly blamed on the failure to comply with environmental laws and having systems in place.

Mr Arnold Waiswa Ayazika, the director, environmental monitoring and compliance, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), said as businesses grow, they must comply with environmental laws to avoid destroying the environment.

“As you make profits, you must think about how your activities affect the environment. For instance, right now the cost of treating water is very high because of increased land-based activities that have led to increased pollution of water,” he said.

Before any company starts operating, the law requires that an environmental impact assessment is conducted and later a licence issued by NEMA after confirming that all systems are in place. 

Mr Waiswa said complying with environmental laws and standards increases the company’s competitiveness for business, especially for international and big projects and accessing funds.

“There are many projects and businesses you cannot bid for if you do not comply with environmental laws and systems. Some financial institutions even ask for the environmental impact assessment licence from NEMA before approving your request for money,” he added. 

Mr Waiswa emphasised that non-compliance can be costly as it can lead to the closure of businesses, penalties, and arrests of non-compliant business owners.

To improve SMEs market positioning for emerging business opportunities in Uganda and beyond, enhance environmental conservation and upgrade their practices to internationally recognised standards, GIZ Employment and Skills for Eastern Africa programme through the Consortium of E360 Group and LMS Certification Services, have launched a project to support 45 local SMEs to improve their health, safety, and environmental standards and practices. 

The selected companies will participate in a value-adding, competitive, and intensive ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System (EMS) programme that includes training, coaching, mentorship and certification.

Mr Don Agaba, the head of Uganda - Employment and Skills for Development in Africa programme, said during the launch in Kampala that this training is needed both for compliance to enter into a natural resource-based sectors but also beyond. 

“We have the obligation to mitigate our carbon footprint to the environment but in addition to that, this training needs to make business sense for it to be sustainable. So I encourage all SMEs to take these recommendations seriously, implement them through your operations and allow them to be catalysts to increasing the competitiveness of your companies,” he said.

Mr John Walugembe, the executive director of the Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises, said by training and helping SMEs to achieve ISO 14001:2015, which is about environmental management system requirements, will enable enterprises to adopt good environmental practices. He said this will empower them to access many markets, improve efficiency, and have a good reputation.

“Once a company complies and receives ISO 14001:2015 certification, even international companies will be willing to work with it,” he said.

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