Singh Twins Drive Busi­ness For­ward

mailife - - Contents - By MELA KATONIVUALIKU Pho­tos IVA ROKOVESA

Twin girls who grew up see­ing their fa­ther strug­gling to keep his re­tail busi­ness afloat are now busi­ness­women with law and ac­count­ing de­grees, at the helm of the fam­ily group of com­pa­nies. Mandvi Nan­dita Singh and Nam­rata Cha­ran Singh are the daugh­ters of for­mer Labasa mayor and prom­i­nent busi­ness­man Cha­ran Jeath Singh and Swaran Nan­dita Singh. They are ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tors of the Cha­ran Jeath Singh Group of Com­pa­nies (CJS Group) – the legacy of their fa­ther es­tab­lished more than 30 years ago with a goal of pos­i­tive in­vest­ment to in­crease the pro­file of Fiji and its cit­i­zens. MaiLife in­ter­viewed the pair on a Satur­day morn­ing at their ware­house in Vatuwaqa, when they spoke about their sim­ple early life in the North­ern town. They had been born in Auck­land, New Zealand but lived in the Babasiga town all their lives and con­sider it home. “We went to Shiri Gu­runanak Khalsa Pri­mary School and Khalsa Col­lege in Labasa,” Nam­rata said. “We were aca­dem­i­cally driven, but also en­joyed sports and dancing. We made many close friends with whom we still keep in touch,” Mandvi said. The twins are both lawyers and char­tered ac­coun­tants with de­grees from Wash­ing­ton State Univer­sity in the United States and the Univer­sity of Auck­land. They are now in their late 20s and do al­most every­thing to­gether. They say they are grate­ful to each other for the com­pan­ion­ship. “I can­not imag­ine not hav­ing a twin and liv­ing without Mandvi” Nam­rata said. “And I’m lucky to have Nam­rata to bounce off ideas and con­fide in, since we don’t have any other sib­lings,” Mandvi, the el­der twin, said. In their spa­cious of­fice there was an empty desk and chair with files on it. “That’s the desk where my fa­ther sits when he comes in now and again to over­see things. But oth­er­wise we run the busi­ness,” Nam­rata ex­plained. “Our par­ents have been a great in­spi­ra­tion in our lives. They al­ways wanted us to help them with the busi­ness and have al­ways taken our sug­ges­tions and ideas even as we were

grow­ing up,” Mandvi said. Her sis­ter added: “They gave us the op­por­tu­nity to ac­com­pany them on their busi­ness trips so we could broaden our knowl­edge and it has al­ways been our goal to in­te­grate into the busi­ness. Where the busi­ness is to­day has been through the sheer hard work of both our par­ents.” Mandvi said their Dad was strict but they were grate­ful for all that he had done. “He brought the busi­ness and us this far and the least we can do is to con­tinue where he left off.” “The good thing about Dad is that he lets us do what we want to do and make our own choices in life. He throws us into the deep end and more or less tells us we can ei­ther sink or swim be­cause he wants us to learn and ex­pe­ri­ence life.” “They didn’t want to force us into the busi­ness, I think it was just in us to come back and help Dad be­cause we grew up watch­ing him work his way up.” “My fa­ther is happy that we have come to help him with run­ning the busi­ness. He is a bit re­laxed now and with us around he is able to fo­cus more on ex­pan­sion.” CJS Group over­sees on a num­ber of sub­sidiaries that in­clude: Gur­bachans Food­town Ltd (CJS Su­per­mar­ket and Gosal Dis­trib­u­tors); The Friendly North Inn; Or­ange Coast In­vest­ment Ltd (Lau­toka Ho­tel, Grand Eastern Ho­tel, Vanua Rental Cars, Pon­toon Nite Club & Prop­er­ties); Cha­ran Ka­toni­vere Hold­ings Ltd; Gosal Dis­trib­u­tors Ltd (South Pa­cific Waste Re­cy­clers); Twinzy­rocks Lim­ited; Gur­bachan Singh & Co Ltd; and Crazytwinz (Fiji) Lim­ited. The twins are look­ing for­ward to what the fu­ture brings. “We still have so much left to achieve, ex­pe­ri­ence and learn and in terms of busi­ness we have sev­eral plans in mind,” they said. Once the Nabua Com­plex that is cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion is com­pleted, they are hop­ing to start work on open­ing their third su­per­mar­ket in Nakasi, with ren­o­va­tions for Lau­toka Ho­tel pend­ing and ex­pan­sion plans for Grand Eastern Ho­tel in Labasa in the pipe­line. What­ever their twin fu­tures hold, they say they are for­ever grate­ful for the foun­da­tion their hard­work­ing par­ents laid down for them.

Mad­hvi (left) and Nam­rata at their home in Suva

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