I remember when I first came up with the JARDS concept and social enterprise, people would ask “How is your venture going to be sustainable?”, and I would always mainly only answer on how we are going to fund our activities.  For me then –  sustainability was all about how are we going to find money so that we are still ‘existing’ the following year.  But I  knew sustainability for JARDS was not just about money, its about making sure there is a steady supply of bamboo, rattan, I take care of my workers so they are happy and healthy, that their children are happy and healthy.  For you can not make that money without the aforementioned…

The recent devastating floods that have happened in Malawi, the word sustainability in regards to my business has reminded not only me, but all of us that its meaning is more broader than just ‘money’.  And has enforced why we all need to take care of the environment and all the natural resources around us.

Thousands have been displaced with the floods and it is going to take months if not years for them to get their lives back on track.

My grandmother and cousins live in Zomba where a big road connecting them with markets has washed away.

If we keep going on like this, one day we will wake up to no wildlife, no food, no roads, no houses, no lives…. Am I being extreme? Maybe… But the images below say a different story….

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If you are in Malawi, please SMS Ndife Amodzi to 140. This applies to both TNM and Airtel customers.  Drop off donations at Red Cross Malawi, Latitude 13 Hotel and the numerous other outlets that have donation boxes found all over at Churches and Schools and shops.

If you are in Lusaka, please drop off donations – old blankets, old bedsheets, etc to Latitude 15 Hotel.  Proflight have generously offered to fly in the donations.

For those of you reading far away, here are links that you can make donations to:

We only have one planet and it is precious, let us take care of it.

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Its a New Year…A look back?…Resolutions?…

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Happy New Year Everybody. Thank you for following, and reading my blog.  Wordpress sends you a ‘report’ at the end of the Year and the traffic to my blog has been really great.  People as far as Panama, Macao, Belize, … Continue reading

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Dreams continue to come true…

Once again, time has slipped by much more quickly than I expected and I have once again neglected to updating my followers on all that is happening with JARDS (shamefaced). But exciting things have been happening and our dreams continue to come true.  So will once again have to go back in time…


Since we aired on CNN African Start ups, we have been featured on other websites and blogs… I found my name being mentioned on the same page as George Clooney’s – mind turning stuff!  Below is a clip of the interview 😀


And here are a few more links of those who featured our story…


The Merchandising & Product Development Manager for Stand Seven read our story in a magazine in Switzerland (how surreal right!) I didn’t even know our story had gone so far!  They will be featuring JARDS Products on their website… It took a while to figure out logistics as we are a landlocked country and shipping is EXPENSIVE! But where there is a will there is a way right….


Bamboo Solutions from South Africa, showed interest in contracting JARDS to offer training in Kwa Zulu Natal where there is a lot of bamboo and a lot of youth in the peri-urban areas with no education or no skills.  Unfortunately our schedules did not align and we will look at this again early next year, but I am happy to see the JARDS model is not only unique to Malawi but can be adopted in other countries too.


We have our Mother’s Day on 15th October, and I remember getting a call on 6th October from Airtel which is the biggest Telecommunications company in Malawi wanting to order 200 gift baskets and they needed them in 4 days – and I said sure not a problem…. Then I panicked…. 200 – in FOUR DAYS?!!  But the team came together and in 4 days we were done, they brought champagne & chocolates to fill in and package the baskets as well – but we delivered – 200 beautiful baskets – they assured us we shall get another call for Christmas Hampers.

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We’ve been busy coming up with new basket designs and colors.  A Romanian friend of mine Ana-Maria inspired me to come up with the below candle holders – I call them the Romal Candle Holders


It is amazing how inspiration for designs come from all over…


In my last blog update, I mentioned Dianne Dimick Berning from Boise, Idaho who came out last year with her husband Ron who was my Host Mentor while I was in the US in 2012.  Dianne pledged to support the Matawale F.P. School every year on a project that I recommend to her.  This year our project was building a block of toilets for girls.  A lot of girls drop out of school or miss a lot of classes due to sanitary issues.  Although we would have loved to do more, this is a start – and the reason why I write about it is maybe our work can inspire others in the plight of encouraging girls to stay in school.  The block of toilets will be handed over on 26 December 2014 and I promise lots of pictures will be posted 😀

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… 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…



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 😀

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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 ( ).  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.



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 🙂


Can you believe it we were semi-finalists for both Echoing Green Fellowship – as well as the Unreasonable Institute Fellowship – that far means we are doing quite a good job and thats really encouraging to me and the team!


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…


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




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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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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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 

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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.


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 ( 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


Exciting times ahead!

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Where the magic happens…

Where the magic happens….

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