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Swazi Secrets now owned by rural women suppliers

Business Section

By FAITH SHONGWE - SWAZI TIMES-04-Jun-2009

MBABANE – Swazi Secrets will be handing over full ownership of the company to the groups of rural women who supply the company.

The handover will be done next week Thursday during the company’s first ever Annual General Meeting (AGM). This means that the rural women suppliers will now sit in the Board of Directors, but only as non-Executive Directors.
Swazi Indigenous Products (SIP) Executive Director John Pearce said there were 42 member groups, each comprising of between 15 and 20 women who supply the company with marula nuts.
“This is a significant step for the company and it is not something that happens overnight. When the company was set up four years ago we encouraged the rural women suppliers to become members. To be a member, each supplier had to pay an annual subscription of E10 for the first year and E4 thereafter each year.
They were also encouraged to form member groups and now that the ownership will be handed over to the suppliers, each member group will receive a share certificate at the company’s AGM. As the company’s shareholders, they will then elect the Board of Directors,” Pearce explained.
Entitled He said each member group would be entitled to nominate candidates who would stand for elections during the AGM. “Our company constitution requires each member group to nominate a candidate. When the company was formed, it was run by a Steering Committee and Technical Committee and the Board was elected by the Steering Committee. We have had three rural representatives in the Board for 12 months and they were nominated by the company’s patron, Her Majesty the Indlovukazi,” he added.
Asked if the rural women who would be appointed as members of the Board would still be eligible to supply the company with kernels and if they would get training on the business operations, Pearce said; “Yes, they will still be eligible to supply the company. Those who make it to the Board will be given extensive induction of how the business operates and there will also be continuous training after introducing them to the business.” He also said the women would elect five directors from among the rural suppliers and four directors from prominent Swazi professionals who have consented to stand for election. “As the Executive Director, I will be an ex-officio member of the Board and I will report to the Board,” said Pearce. The women shareholders will also assist in the development of the company while also helping the rural women to adapt to their new company directors.
“As shareholders, the member groups will also participate in the distribution of the company’s future profits, by deciding on how to spend the profits on local community developments,” he added. SIP is the company that produces a number of Swazi Secrets products such as marula oil and bath soaps, among others.


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