Imagine being a bright 12 year old girl, living in one of the poorest countries in the world, she is made to feel special and chosen for a greater purpose as she has just graduated from high school and is in college at age 14 – she does not know what she wants to do with her life as she has no guidance counselors but she knows she has big dreams to change the lives of women and youth in her community – how to achieve this she does not know but she has incredible faith in herself that she can. But at age 18 she falls pregnant and this forces her to face reality, look for a job which she finds as a receptionist and find alternative ways to supplement her income. She utilizes the skill her mum gave her at age 14 – how to weave baskets. So she would weave flower baskets for her friends who were getting married and these came to the eye of the State President’s daughter, who ended up ordering 1, 000 wedding favor baskets. As she could not do this alone in the 3 week delivery period required, she got some women and youth in her community to help hence leading to the setting up of JARDS Products.
JARDS Products is a social business in Lilongwe, Malawi that manufactures affordable and quality eco-friendly bamboo furniture and baskets, woodwork as well as beaded jewellery by using locally available materials to be sold locally as well as exported internationally.
JARDS was founded by Rosebill Satha, 28, the social aspect idea came about with the influence of her mother who works for the Ministry of Gender and Children Welfare of Malawi. She worked with disadvantaged women groups in the rural villages and taught them how to make bamboo products so that they are able to enrich their lives economically. JARDS incorporated the same concept but this time with disadvantaged youth who are taught the skill of weaving but also might gain employment with the business.
JARDS was registered in February 2011. There are currently 5 full time employees, 5 seasonal workers and 4 volunteers. There are 11 youth who have been trained so far and have 5 in the process of being trained. JARDS buys its raw materials from 2 nearby local community villages and that is helping to support about 20 families.
Rosebill is currently in Boise, Idaho on a 4 month fellowship program called the Community Solutions Program which is a US State Dept funded project run by IREX.