A rocky start

For over a decade, Malawian entrepreneur, Rosebill Satha has run a successful business that uses bamboo to produce furniture and various household items. Though when she started out in business in 2005, aged 20, things were not as rosy as her name suggests. At the time, she had just lost her job and had daughters to look after.

Cash-strapped, Satha decided to fall back on weaving bamboo baskets, a skill her mother thought her when she was 14 and just entering university to study Business Administration. She would weave hampers for her friends who were getting married.

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In 2009, her work came to the attention of Duwu, daughter of late Malawi president, Bingu Wa Mutharika. Duwu ordered 1,000 gift baskets for her wedding to be delivered within three weeks. Knowing she wouldn’t meet the demand by herself, Satha hired some women and youth to help out, and that was how JARDS Products came to be.

Some JARDS Products items. Photo: jardsproducts.wordpress.com
Some JARDS Products items. Photo: jardsproducts.wordpress.com

Managing JARDS Products

JARDS is an acronym for her family members: her daughters, herself, her husband and the family name (Joanna, Amanda, Rosbill Dalitsa and Sambo, accordingly).

“JARDS is all about family, community and friends, that’s who we are,” she said in an interview with CNN.

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Based in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital, JARDS Products specialises in using bamboo stalk to create basket, furniture, jewellery, woodwork, among other items. The company employs a number of fulltime and occasional workers with several volunteers. It also trains youths on how to make the products.

“Instead of them doing nothing at home,” Satha said of the youths in training, “let them learn a skill that can basically end up being their income generator.”

While running JARDS Product, Satha also works as the Executive Director of the Malawi Tourism Council. In 2012, she received the Role Model Entrepreneur of the Year award from the National Association of Business Women of Malawi. In 2013, she was named to the list of Under35 CEO, a list that recognises successful African entrepreneurs under the age of 35.

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