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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Rosebill Satha-Sambo - Tackling The Problem of Youth Unemployment Through Her Bamboo Weaving Business

Meet Malawi's Rosebill Satha-Sambo, founder of JARDS, a business focused on weaving bamboos into beautiful products like furniture, baskets and storage units. She is also tackling the problem of youth unemployment in her community by empowering others with necessary skills. On her journey to success, this young entrepreneur who lost her job, had no income and had a young family to raise, eventually resorted to a skill she'd learned from her mother while growing up: weaving bamboo baskets.

Working from her home in the Malawian capital of Lilongwe, she began producing elaborate hampers for friends who were about to get married. Orders soon started piling in and, as business picked up, her creations quickly became the talk of the town including in high circles. "My baskets caught the eye of the late president Bingu Wa Mutharika's daughter, Duwa, who was getting married," recalls Satha-Sambo. " She ordered 1,000 wedding favour baskets which she needed in 3 weeks, there was no way I could have done it myself, so I got some youth and women who I knew could weave and together we
fulfilled the order.

In 2011 Satha-Sambo set up JARDS Products, a thriving social enterprise focused on producing a wide range of eco-friendly bamboo furniture and baskets from beautiful rocking chairs and mirror frames to hand-made dressing tables and storage units. "JARDS is an acronym for my family," says Satha-Sambo. "Daughters Joanna, Amanda, Rosebill, Dalitsa, who's my husband, and Sambo, which is our surname," she adds. "JARDS is all about family, community and friends, that's who we are."

Influenced by her mother, who'd spent years going to rural areas to teach groups of disadvantaged women how to weave bamboo baskets and furniture, Satha-Sambo also started training young people in her community to help them better their lives. "I know how it feels to be unemployed, with a family relying on you to provide for basic necessities," says the 30-year-old entrepreneur. Instead of them doing nothing at home, let them learn a skill that can basically end up being their income generator, she says. "It is important because unemployment in my country is so high; we need to break the cycle of poverty that causes gender-based violence, child marriages and prostitution."

To achieve this, Satha-Sambo works with uneducated women and young people who can't get into university. And when she's not training young people, nor running JARDS, nor mentoring budding entrepreneurs not to mention raising her family, Satha-Sambo manages to find time to attend the Malawi Institute of Management. "I have a good job and what is considered a thriving business but this is something I want to achieve for myself," says Satha-Sambo, who is currently finishing her business degree and plans to start a Master's straight after. "I also want to show my daughters, nieces and girls in my community the importance of education -- it opens up your mind and gets you thinking in a different way."

Her business acumen and social focus has recently won her 2 international grants, as well as 4 Malawian and foreign awards. "I actually want to set up a skills-development center because I think entrepreneurship is the way for Africa to go," she says. "These skills just need to be passed ... because the jobs need to be created -- and how do you create a job if you don't actually have the papers, and you don't have a skill? So that's where we're headed."

1 comment:

  1. Necessity they say, is the mother of invention, inspiring story.