Incontrovertibly, startups and business enterprises are a catalyst for economic recovery both globally and locally, crucial in bringing about societal change as well driving economic recovery and reaching new levels of responsible and sustainable growth. With the enactment of the Nigerian Startup Act, which brings hope that businesses within the Nigerian ecosystem, especially startups, will have a better chance to grow and thrive within the Nigerian business environment, the counting of startups in Nigeria have grown geometrically and, while growth for startups is core to their survival, it is equally important for them to develop responsibly and that also in the knowledge of what is obtainable in the purview of their business operation. Hence, this piece will be introducing the concerned startups, to a regulatory agency in Nigeria and its compliance policy that has to do with standardisation of products, to enhance smooth running of their business ventures, among other things.
Quality control is a process by which a business seeks to ensure that product quality is maintained or improved by the review of all factors involved in production. It involves aggregate of activities, analysis, inspection and testing units designed to ensure adequate quality in production and determining if they are within the specifications for the final product.
ISO 9000 defines quality control as a part of quality management focused on fulfilling quality requirements. A system of maintaining standards in manufactured products by testing a sample of the output against the specification.
Comparatively, quality assurance is the part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled. The confidence provided by quality assurance is twofold—internally to management and externally to customers, government agencies, regulators, certifiers, and third parties. An alternate definition is all the planned and systematic activities implemented within the quality system that can be demonstrated to provide confidence that a product or service will fulfill requirements for quality.
Essentially, while quality control is the part of quality management: more the inspection aspect of quality management, focused on fulfilling quality requirements, quality assurance on the other end relates to how a process is performed or how a product is made, the operational techniques and activities used to fulfill requirements for quality.
THE STANDARDS ORGANISATION OF NIGERIA (SON)
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), is the apex standardisation body in Nigeria, set to eliminate loopholes hindering quality assurance. SON was established by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) Act No. 14, 2015, which repeals the Standards Organisation of Nigeria Act, Cap 59 laws of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004 and which repealed the amendments made prior to its enactment. SON Act, 2015 was enacted for the purpose of providing additional functions for the organisation, increasing penalties for violations, and for related matters. It has given powers to the Standards Council to designate, establish and approve standards in respect of metrology, materials, commodities, structures, and processes for the certification of products in commerce and industry throughout Nigeria and to carry out any other functions imposed on it under this Act or any other written law; power to make rules. It has power to organize tests, investigate into the quality of facilities, materials and products, ensure reference standards for calibration and verification of measures and measuring instruments, register and regulate standard marks and specifications, among others. By virtue of the Act, the Minister as well has the power to give directives to SON; power to declare established standard as binding.
Standardisation is the main organ of the SON. It is responsible for standards/specifications development and other related activities.
The industry standards for standardisation enables production organisations to improve performance,achieve growth, deliver quality products and services, reduce risk, embed excellence, and keep employees and infrastructure safe.
SON’s governing body is known as the Nigerian Standards Council. This is the Policy making body for supervising the administration and financial management of the Organisation.
The mandate of the Organisation includes preparation of standards relating to products, measurements, materials, processes and services amongst others and their promotion at National, Regional, and International levels; certification of industrial products, assistance in the production of quality goods and services; improvement of measurement accuracies and circulation of information relating to standards.Cumulatively, improving life through standards and quality assurance
There are several regulations made by the standards council and approved by the minister or executive council under the powers given to the Director-General, the council, and the minister.
Some of the regulatory requirements include: the mandatory SONCAP PROGRAMME (Offshore Conformity Assessment Programme) for imported goods; the mandatory MANCAP Programme (Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme) for locally manufactured products; the Mandatory Products Registration Programme; Designation, establishment, approval, and declaration of standards in respect of metrology, materials, commodities, structures, and processes; Certification of products in commerce and industry throughout Nigeria; Quality control of products, weights, and measures; Matters relating to metrology- ensure reference standards for calibration and verification of measures and measuring instruments, among a host of others.
THE PRODUCT AUTHENTICATION MARK (PAM) OF STANDARDS ORGANISATION OF NIGERIA (SON)
By the enabling Act and in accordance with section 5 of the SON Act, 2015, SON in its mandate to register and certify products for retail in Nigeria, has implemented and specified a distinct mark, known as Product Authentication Mark (PAM), a mark of quality that is affixed on finished products to demonstrate their conformity to approved standards, to ensure the authenticity and traceability of products certified to have met the requirements of the relevant Nigerian Industrial Standards or other approved specifications in Nigeria.
PAM is to be applied on all products that comply with the SONCAP and MANCAP schemes. That is, for imported commodity as well as locally manufactured products with the requirements of the relevant Nigerian Standards or approved specification.
Imported products certified to SONCAP/Registered with SON (Product Registration) must have the Product Authentication Mark before placement on the retail market.
The PAM Scheme in the collective interest of importers and consumers is to ensure the quality of products offered to consumers in Nigeria and overcome the negative effect of faking, cloning, and counterfeiting, particularly on certified products.
PAM Scheme provides an online platform for consumers to directly authenticate the validity of certified products before purchase and thus have value for their money. It will also assure genuine importers of their products on market sale. Without patronage, substandard, fake, cloned, and counterfeited products would have no market for their products.
Importers can acquire the PAM stickers from SON for a fee and importers whose products are certified to SONCAP/Registered with SON can apply for the issuance of PAM stickers. For goods not accompanied by the product certificate, destination inspection and the test report used to clear the goods at the point of entry will form the basis of issuance of PAM stickers, and the importer will be required to complete an application form online. Application for PAM stickers must be submitted before SON’s final clearance of goods from the port of entry.
Manufacturers with MANCAP-certified products may apply (voluntarily) for issuance of PAM stickers by completing an application form online on the SONPAM website, with details of information on the certified products before the production of every batch.
The PAM sticker shall be fixed on the retail unit of the certified product. In case sticking the PAM on the retail unit is not possible, the mark shall be affixed on a package containing two or more retail units.
Any person or corporate body that affixes a PAM sticker on a product not authorized to bear the mark (uncertified product) is liable for criminal action in accordance with the SON Act of 2015.
The development of standards in Nigeria has been on-going since the establishment of SON, working tirelessly to establish quality practice in production and service industries through standardisation and quality assurance, to ensure safety, consumer satisfaction and value for money for every product and service offered which will in turn also give the startups systemic growth; a pilot service standard focused at enhancing quality of service provided by Micro, Small and Medium enterprises (MSMEs).
Moreover, by adhering to the quality and safety requirements prescribed in the Nigerian Industrial Standard, startups minimize risks, foster public confidence in the safety and quality of products purchased and consumed nationwide. However, without proper standards and regulations in place, products can become a potential source of hazard, posing severe risk to individuals and the communities alike.
SON also constitutes Technical Committees responsible for articulating Nigerian Industrial Standards (NIS). The Committee thus, decides what requirements are best in their general interest to determine the minimum requirements, while SON ensures the processes involved for obtaining the National position aligns with International Best Practices based on the principles of standards development.
Put together, the standards when they receive due attention for implementation by Startups, to give “Made in Nigeria” products and services to Nigerian Startups, this earns leading edge in quality, customer satisfaction, sanitization and empowering of the service providers to make the most of their skills, create jobs and make profits.
For some service organizations, the concept of quality control may be foreign because there is no tangible product to inspect and control. However, startups are to be well guided and as such need a startup legal advisory the most as it offers deep regulatory and industry knowledge and compliance that gives most suitable option for a startup in any matter with the barest shortcomings.
 Sections 4,12,14,23 of the SON Act, 2015
 Sections 5, 7, 32 -52 of the SON Act, 2015
 Sections 2, 16, of SON Act, 2015
 Section 5 of the SON Act, 2015.
 Ibid. 7
 sections 3, 4, 23- 29 of the SON Act, 2015
 Ibid. 15
 Part VII of the SON Act, 2015