The first ISO Award has been bestowed

Last week the first ISO Prize has been awarded to Hulda Oliveira Giesbrecht for her work with small business in Brazil

In the framework of opening up the world of ISO Standards, a key topic at ISO International Standardisation Organisation’s Assembly in Russian St. Petersburg, the first ISO Prize has been bestowed.

Hulda Oliveira Giesbrecht was recognised for her work with micro and small businesses in Brazil through the non-profit organisation Sebreae, where she works as a technical analyst. This organisation’s mission is to help to improve the competitiveness of small businesses and to foster entrepreneurship to strengthen the Brasilian economy as small businesses make up 99 % of all Brazilian enterprises and contribute up to 25 % of the country’s GDP Gross Domestic Product. In the past few yerars the focus was on access to innovation and technology through standards.

The winner stated that the biggest challenges for micro and small enterprises in Brazil is access to technical knowledge and this is where she believes standards can be helpful. “Standards represent the cutting edge of technical knowledge. If this group of companies can access these documents and know how to use them they can add knowledge into their businesses, she stated following the awards ceremony, and she added: “Standards do not always address the sector specific needs of this group of companies, and they find it difficult to get involved in the process in order to shape it.”

Expressively to overcome this gap, Sebrae, working with ISO’s Brazilian member ABNT, established a project to help these companies to better understand the benefits of using standards, identify their standardisation need and help them to get involved in the standards development process.

The project resulted in the identification of new areas of work and the establishment of ten new project committees in ABNT to develop standards that address the sector specific requirements. In her speech, she highlighted the work that had been done to try to improve the efficiency of bee keeping and honey production. “We started working with people in the bee keeping sector, and we learned that there were problems with how to make beehives, which species of wood to use, and the size and the shape of the hives. We worked with many parties to define a standard and the most efficient way of making these hives. As a result, this knowledge is now available to bee keepers around the nation, to help them improve their performance. Now, the funds of some Brazilian banks allow credits to these farmers to support their activities and because they are tied to use this new standard. We witnessed that the honey yield went up significantly since introducing this standard.”

For the time being, she is working with the hospitality sector to help them to put in place food safety management systems in preparation for the World Cup in football to be held in Brazil. ISO 22000 seems to be difficult to implement in small companies, thus Sebrae is working with hotels and restaurants to help them making the standard more accessible.

As part of the award, the prize winner will be bestowed with CHF 20000 to finance a future project for the described group of small enterprises. Within this project she aims to apply the benefits of her work with Sebrae in Brazil to bring it on international stage. Over the next year, she will research similar initiatives in other countries with the aim of establishing guidelines to encourage and support small businesses in developing and using standards. Her findings and recommendations will be presented at the 2014 ISO General Assembly to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The ISO prize was a suggestion by ISO past-President Boris Aleshin, as way to say thank you to individuals who help promote the use of ISO standards, but who do not always get the recognition they deserve and he felt, that this work is so critical to the success of the ISO system.

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