Women’s Contribution in ERA-AF Rural Road Works Project. With Determination, Women Can Make It!

While there are many stories of women who have made it through hard work, the story of Mrs. Joanina da Costa Soares, Director of Tula Eli Unip. from Suco Builale, Baucau Municipality is quite fascinating. The mother of five children, with a high school background, but not completed owing to lack of fees always dreamt of being an entrepreneur. Whenever she looked at other successfulentrepreneurs, she reassured herself, that “if those people can have enterprises and be successful, why can’t I.”.A typical day in her family involved working with her parents in the rice-field. This continued until she got married. After being married, Joanina realised that marriage life was quite different from being single, as married life, carried more responsibilities for the family’s needs.


It is against these responsibilities and background, and with the zeal to make it in life and full support from her husband, that Joanina established Tula Eli Unip. Lda. in 2010 which engaged in Government and other agency projects. The enterprise started by engaging in small contracts for constructing drains, but which revealed the firm’s values of commitment, hard work, timely delivery and quality. In 2013, they got a school rehabilitation contract from UNICEF With the profit, the firm diversified into a motorcycle workshop business. In 2018, Tula Eli applied to participate in the Training Programme of ERA Agro-Forestry project for Viqueque Municipality, where it was selected as one of the contractors to undergo training. ERA Agro-Forestry Project is funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO). Joanina together with an engineer and 2 supervisors, participated in the contractor training course that involved classroom and field practical training provided by Don Bosco Training Centre (DBTC) and Institute for Business Development Support (IADE). DBTC and IADE are accredited training institutions which provided training on various aspects of road construction and business including; Construction of Rural Roads using Labour Based Methods, Pavement Construction, and Contracts and Business Management.


As part of the practical training trial contracts, Tula Eli Unip. Larigutu constructed a section of the Lariguto – Builale road in Ossu Decima, Viqueque municipality.  Feedback from the monitoring and evaluation conducted by the project and community revealed satisfaction with the work carried out, and which was able to be done in a timely manner.  The community lauded and commended Mrs. Joaninha, and her team for not only implementing the works well, but also giving back to the community through corporate social responsibility, where a section of road that was not covered by the ERA Agro-Forestry project was improved at Tula Eli’s own cost.  When asked what led her to give back to the community, Joaninaresponded that she feels obliged to return to the community, based upon the success she has achieved.  It is also worth mentioning that Joanina has also been able to procure a Light Sit-On Compaction Roller (same as Limfim Unip. Lda) that is now being used for company works and also hiring out.  Indeed, we have not seen the end of the dream for Joanina, as she continues to show that with determination, a woman can make it.

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