Singh Twins Drive Business Forward
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