JARDS Products was lucky enough this year to be once again chosen as one of the twenty businesses to be sponsored to attend the 26th Malawi International Trade Fair at the Malawi Confederation of Chambers, Commerce & Industry grounds in Blantyre.
We took some furniture but mainly baskets and though sales were slow we did generate a lot of interest and I have already received two confirmed orders out of it – one which will be exporting baskets to Cape Town – with a promise of more to come. The Vice President of Malawi opened the fair and stopped at our stand gave handshakes to all the entrepreneurs and encouraging words (how cool is that :)).
Ron and I also had a meeting with the National Association of Business Women so that he can get an understanding on how micro enterprise works in Malawi and hopefully he would be able to use some of the techniques learnt and apply them at META – partnering together to strengthen communities is what it is all about.
My whole family (who make up the name JARDS) were with me this year, and it is a wonderful feeling sharing successes like this together, but also my daughters will see not only how hard work and determination pays but also the fact that they are female does not mean they can not enter or succeed in the business world.
I had Ron Berning & his wife Dianne with me at the fair and then we proceeded to Matawale FP School on 26 May 2013. Dianne had raised US$4, 000 and we had a pick-up truck full of supplies, footballs and kits, first aid kit, chairs, plates and spoons for the school feeding program, supplementary books, torches, buckets, school bags and much more. We gave presents to the top 20 boys and girls of the primary school and I heard a couple of kids saying they were just a few points behind the student who won the prize and they would have gotten that present.
Half the village turned up, chiefs, parents, kids who were no longer part of the school and they performed cultural dances for us (which Ron joined – it was an LOL moment but special). We also had Michelle who works for the Community Solutions Program (who was here visiting all the fellows) take part of the special day.
When we came back to Lilongwe we met the mentees participating in the mentorship program that i created – Self Advancement for Youth and Women in Malawi and we met 3 of them together with Ron – two who receive mentorship from META staff. Its amazing how much another persons point of view can totally change the aspect and direction of where you wanted to take your business.