Let firms bet on quality for competitive edge

Source: Business Daily
Posted Sunday, October 30 2011 at 21:35
At a time many companies are trembling in fear of globalisation, many Kenyan companies are standing up to the challenge, creating brands that promise to be counted among the global elite.

This has already started to show in the various continental awards being won by Kenya Inc for environment to innovation
Behind this storied lot represented by Safaricom and Equity Bank, is a determined push by medium-sized companies to grab a seat at the high table of corporate achievers.

While this accolade has applied more to the services and technology sector, pharmaceutical firms are behind the latest drive with one of them – Universal Corporation – winning World Health Organisation certification.

This will allow it to participate in tenders floated anywhere in the world by the Global Fund which supports treatment for HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and reproductive health.

The benefits from this ascendancy are many as can be discerned from three other firms — Cosmos, Regal Pharmaceuticals and — taking the certification path that will put Kenya pharmas ahead of their rivals in Africa, with the possible exception of Egypt and South Africa.

For starters, certification speaks louder than any other word can on factory standards, enabling buyers to order the drugs without having to incur the costs of visiting the manufacturing plants.

Related to this is that the production meets WHO thresholds for safety. Secondly, increased sales by the companies will over time necessitate expansion which comes with new jobs and other linkages along the economic value chain.

Thirdly, success has a way of wrapping off positively even on rivals, meaning other manufacturers will also perfect their act, allowing patients to access formulations that are of the highest standards.

These are ample grounds for celebrating what these four firms have achieved. More importantly, they are a challenge to all companies to aspire to the highest standards, so that they can compete with the best in the region, Africa and the world.

For firms constrained by the high cost of doing business, top-notch quality offers a cutting edge that even producers in subsidised and least cost regimes like those in America, Asia and Europe will find hard to beat.
Combined with value addition, this unique comparative advantage that has seen Kenya tea and coffee hold an unrivalled place in international markets, should be pursued by all businesses seeking to increase their sales.

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