Woman Farmer FoundationEmpowerment of Woman Farmers in Swaziland
Director's Profile: Sonia Paiva
After working for two small companies in 1982, Carlos Paiva (my husband) and I decided to open our Company, as we were young, energetic, ambitious and very adventurous and looking forward to a good successful business.
The Company that we started was Carson Wheels (Pty) ltd in December 1983.
The franchises that we secured for the companies were; Suzuki, Kawasaki, BMW, Honda, Yanmar, Shtil, and a few other small ones. At that time we were just partners. We saw the lack of Companies in the small engine and motorcycle industry and saw an opportunity to develop such.
Our initial capital was E1000.00 (one thousand Emalangeni) and a Motorcycle; no financial institution was prepared to finance our project; however, against all odds that is where Carson Wheels started, Carlos, Joe and myself with a lot of determination and ambition.
In Swaziland at that time there were no training institutions for Motorcycles and Small Engines, so Carlos started one, he undertook to train all our technicians in-house. After a lot of persuasion and a few years down the line, we began working with S.CO.T and Voctim, taking on apprentices and officially training them; this project proved to have been very successful, as we were able to flood the market with motorcycle and power products technicians. Every single industry in Swaziland that deals with our product has people that were trained by us.
On the other side, set up the administration block, accounts office, sales team as well as the management team. Implemented all the systems, and trained all the admin and sales staff.
From very humble beginnings our staff grew annually and so did our turnover.
In 2003 we acquired the BMW car franchise, that was a new venture all together as we had not traded exclusive vehicles before, we were successful from the beginning, however, we knew that the BMW franchise would not succeed on its own because of the small volumes and Ford and Mazda was recommended to us and we applied for the franchises in 2005 and got both of them.
In 2005, we secured the Tata Franchise for Swaziland for both cars and trucks.
In 2006 we acquired the Ford and Mazda Franchises for Swaziland. This franchise offered vehicles across the board from the low income people to high income people. They offered a wide variety of vehicles, from sedans to vans, panel vans, etc. With this latest acquisition our turn overs increased.
Thereafter we acquired 2 new businesses in the agricultural field, being Mvulane Trading and Agrimech. We were dealing with tractors, farming implements and field preparation for water projects, our turn over by that time was around E170,000,000.00.
From 3 people in the beginning to 123 staff members. My role has been an interesting, exciting and a developing one, from being the receptionist, to accounts clerk, to parts manager, to workshop supervisor, to Human Resources Manager, to General Manager and now Managing Director. It has been a very exciting one because I have had to learn as I�ve grown with the business, a lot of training was put into me; I have had the privileged of representing such excellent Franchises, one of the greatest benefits has been the continuously training programs that I attended, even though I have not been to a university, I have all the knowledge and ability to carry out all my tasks, they also monitor your performance as well as the ability to represent their products.
I am very proud to be a part of a proudly Swazi Owned successful business, which has invested in young Swazi people, trained and empowered a lot of them.
I started the Woman Farmer of the year competition in 2007. This competition was to promote, advance and encourage the participation of Swazi Rural Women in the agricultural sector through competitions, workshops, lectures, seminars, trade shows, and agricultural exhibitions and through many other activities that may be conducive to the attainment of the objects.
Woman Farmer Foundation � this foundation has been necessitated because of the continuous demands of the Woman Farmer Competition. The competition happens once a year, but the need to maintain consistency necessitated the formation of the Foundation that can run and attend the day to day operations.
After being in the Corporate World in the motor industry for 33 years, a decision was reached to retire from that sort of Industry. I am now heading a project called Eswatini Kitchens. This project appealed to me because of the synergies that the woman Farmer has as well as Eswatini kitchen share. The principals of empowering woman small holder�s farmers, disabled and needy will still apply and we will continue to empower and develop the woman in agriculture.
A new factory has been built in Sidvokodvo with all the training facilities for both on the job training in Agriculture as well as food processing. The new factory has a bigger capacity to produce much larger quantities of finished goods, thus resulting in the factory purchasing a lot more produce from the small holders. I have turned a project into a business that now exports to over 9 countries in Europe, as well as USA, Australia and Canada.
I have since been nominated by the United States Embassy in Mbabane to represent Swaziland in Washington DC to Participate in the African Women's Entrepreneurship Program in July and August 2014. The exposure that I attained in the United States of America has been very beneficial to all the women that I work with in rural Swaziland.
Just to mention I sit on a few boards in Swaziland including a few parastatals such as the National Maize Corporation, whereby I hold the post of Vice Chair Person as well as Chair in the Finance Department. I also sit on a board in Nambia called Lip Holdings who are involved in agriculture, fashion as well as The Save the Children�s Fund and Namboard.
Postal Address:P O Box 388
Telephone: +268 2537 3008