… We’re still here :)

Gosh I cant believe its been this long since I last posted!  Between my full time job, finishing my Business Degree, raising my growing girls and running JARDS I really have not had time to sit down and share what has been happening.  And there has been a lot!

So lets see if I remember everything :)

January 2014

Quite a lot happened this month…

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The 2 most powerful African women – President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia & the then President of Malawi Dr Joyce Banda came together to work on ways to promote Malawian and Liberian women entrepreneurs.  The Ministry of Gender & Children Welfare invited JARDS to showcase its products at the even – proud of the recognition I must say :D

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Family is so important to me and my brother and his family flew in from Scotland to surprise everyone , it was the first time for me to see my nephew Nino and my niece Iemanja.  And while they were here, they went down to Matawale FP School (my moms old primary school) to donate football uniform kits, pens, books, etc – that school got my mom out of the village, and we try to give back as much as we can so others can also get out.  Still cant believe in 2014, there are no desks in classes and kids have to sit on the ground :(

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We did 2 trainings, the first was in partnership with Base Budget ( http://www.basebudget.com/partners-and-sponsors.html ).  Monika Visy who works for HSBC is the founder of Ba$e Budget and she offers basic budget skills trainings to entrepreneurs for free and in Janaury she conducted trainings in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Lilongwe & Nairobi.  In Malawi there was a group of 30+ entrepreneurs.

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JARDS trained 40+ women  in get this – bakery skills – we have sort of added bakery lessons to our portfolio basically because our ‘chief trainer’ my mom wants to retire to be a baker next year so we might as well offer bakery lessons to keep her busy :D.  We use 2 outside ovens which run on burning bricks and some firewood – no electricity so very practical for those in the peri urban areas who do not have cookers or electricity to run cookers.

 

February – now

We are now the permanent wicker sellers at the monthly Farmers Market as well as the Kumbali Village Flea Market.  We have been experimenting with colors and different shapes and designs… not so bad :)

March

Can you believe it we were semi-finalists for both Echoing Green Fellowship – http://www.echoinggreen.org/fellowship as well as the Unreasonable Institute Fellowship – http://unreasonableinstitute.org/getting that far means we are doing quite a good job and thats really encouraging to me and the team!

May

My good friend Dianne Dimmick Berning from Boise who came to visit last year and donated tons of stuff to Matawale School kept her promise to donate to help Matawale FP School.  This year her donation combined with my own personal donation will help build 6 toilets for the school. When girls reach puberty in my country, one big thing that contributes them to miss school or drop out all together is lack of toilets in schools, although adding 6 toilets is not enough for a school that has over 500 pupils, it is a start…

July

The MOST exciting thing happened the first week of July, I was contacted by CNN Africa and they wanted to feature JARDS on their CNN African Start-up show.  JARDS was the only start up interviewed in Malawi and I still cant believe it!  The interview airs end July and I will definitely share it .

Phewwwww… once I started the words just kept flowing :) Promise to not take so long to share JARDS updates in future

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… And a Happy New Year!!!

What a year 2013 has been – a lot of setbacks in my personal life, but a lot of progress for JARDS.

We trained 35 women in entrepreneurial skills this year and weaving.  In November we added another element to JARDS – Bakery, we taught 25 women who were sponsored by the Life Changers Ministries how to bake scones & breads and samoosas for sale.  My mom is a jack of all trades – not only does she teach how to weave (where i learnt my skill from) she also teaches cloth making, bakery, pig rearing as well as adult literacy.  We have another training set for 15th January.

We are just trying to see how we can pool our skills together – maybe the next step for us is establishing a skills development centre…

I have had a number of collaborations lately.  I will be conducting a training with Monika Visy who is a chartered accountant with Barclays Bank.  She set up a charity called Ba$e Budget and she is going to conduct trainings in four Cape Town, Johannesburg, Lilongwe & Nairobi.  I met her through One Young World.  She is a 2013 ambassador and although I did not attend it, she searched through the One Young World database to see who she can work with and voila – dream team :)!

I also recently collaborated with a very skilled young lady Maria Thundu to create these lovely handbags

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JARDS are making the hand bag handles and the Sweet Life are making the actual bag using local bright beautiful cloth.

And as icing to end the new year, I have been named by Under35CEO as #1 Most Promising Entrepreneur under 35 for Africa for 2013 – its a great recognition and I am sure the award will open exciting new doors for myself as well as for JARDS.

Cant wait to see what 2014 brings – I hope less the bad and more of the good :)

Best wishes to you all – lets make the most of the year!

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SUCCESSES!!!

September was quite busy with us promoting  baskets at fairs – I’ve been taking my girls along so they see not only how hard it is to make a sale – but also how fun a sale can be :)

At a point they even ‘chased’ me away from our stall and advised me to go and mingle as I was a pushover and kept giving discounts – and true enough they were able to sell the remaining baskets at the normal rate :).

1235181_10201467416141104_319515280_nThe J & R of JARDS Products

And then October jets in with a bang!

My venture, JARDS has received the prestigious One Young World Social Business Accelerator Grant! An award dedicated to recognizing outstanding young changemakers and supporting their activities around the world!

Professor Muhammad Yunus facilitated the Social Business Session and I wish I was there when they were announcing that we were receiving the grant – I would have had a picture with one of the people I admire so much!

The Father of Social Business

Prof. M Yunus – The Father of Social Business

They mention Jards minutes 33 – 34 – oh what sweet success!  Being recognised on such a platform is……………..I dont think I even have the words!

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DO SCHOOL PARTNERS WITH H&M TO CREATE GREEN STORES

DO SCHOOL PARTNERS WITH H&M TO CREATE GREEN STORES.

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DO SCHOOL PARTNERS WITH H&M TO CREATE GREEN STORES

Look at who’s just received press coverage – yup yours truly :)

The DO School (Formerly known as Dekeyser & Friends Academy) has teamed up with H & M on the Green Store Challenge, Its aimed at 18-28 year old social entrepreneurs and you can read more about this on their website www.thedoschool.org 

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Opportunities, Collaborations and much more…

August was quite a busy month for JARDS.  Malawi hosted the Heads of State of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well the the African Union (AU) Women’s Meeting.  The Ministry of Trade invited artisans to showcase their products at the SADC meeting while the Ministry of Gender invited female artisans to showcase their products at the AU meeting.

We got invited to showcase at BOTH meetings :)!  It was a week of showcasing our baskets and we also did sell quite a few – highlight was when the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila selected our stand as one of those he stopped at to ask questions.

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President J Kabila at the JARDS Stand at this years SADC Summit

We are also now on the right track with our exports to Cape Town.  Ashanti Design (www.ashantidesign.com) asked us to make a few products and one of our mats are already on their Facebook page and has garnered quite some interest… Have a look at the below

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Exciting times ahead!

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Where the magic happens…

Where the magic happens….

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