While every business felt the effects of the current pandemic, those with less than 250 employees have been particularly hard hit. Yet micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) constitute the backbone of our societies, making up 90 % of businesses and 70 % of employment. Supporting them through the COVID-19 crisis is the theme of this year’s Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day, held each year on 27 June. ISO has a wide range of resources to help them, both now and for the long term.
Providing international best practice, many ISO standards are designed to help organizations build their resilience, improve their processes and achieve greater efficiencies. They are particularly useful for MSMEs trying to access new markets or attract investment, as they reinforce their credibility and acceptance.
A couple of new publicly available specifications (PAS) directly related to the current crisis will be of considerable use to MSMEs. ISO/PAS 45005, Occupational health and safety management – General guidelines for safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic, helps organizations of all sizes manage the health and safety of their employees and stakeholders during the pandemic, complementing any existing national guidelines and regulations. It is designed to enable them to keep working, but in a safe and sustainable manner.
In the same vein, ISO/PAS 5643, Tourism and related services – Requirements and guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the tourism industry, will help providers of all kinds in the sector – including accommodation providers, tour guides, shops and restaurants – ensure safer services and prevent the spread of the virus. It is designed to help businesses continue to run effectively with measures in place that protect staff, tourists and the local community.
Like tourism, the restaurant industry, which consists largely of MSMEs, has been brutally affected by the current pandemic. Thankfully, the proliferation of cloud or “virtual” kitchens has been a lifeline for many, enabling them to provide home-delivered meals at times when they were forced to close their doors. For this reason, ISO is currently developing guidance to help businesses use such services most effectively.
The future International Workshop Agreement IWA 40, Guidelines for cloud kitchen services, will help to improve the service capacity of the industry, strengthen cooperation with food delivery platforms and better meet consumers’ needs and expectations.
In addition, ISO has a range of guidance documents that specifically help SMEs get the most out of many of ISO’s best-known standards. These include:
- ISO 9001:2015 for small enterprises – What to do?
- ISO 21101 – Adventure tourism – Safety management systems – A practical guide for SMEs
- ISO 14001:2015 – Environmental management systems – A practical guide for SMEs
- ISO 14046 – Environmental management – Water footprint – A practical guide for SMEs
Learn more about how ISO standards help SMEs on our dedicated web page.