Entrepreneur and designer Elfreda Mayson founded Jola House in an effort to address some of the challenges facing post-war Liberian society.
Like many Liberians, Elfreda was forced to leave her country when civil war broke out. As she continued to provide financial support to friends and family who remained in the country, she began to dream of a Liberia where hard working people could ensure their own financial security. Following the war, Elfreda returned to Liberia to pursue her ambition to create a sustainable source of economic empowerment for war-affected Liberian women. She brought together over 25 years of professional experience, a B.A. in Financial Management and a certificate in Interior Design to found Jola House in 2012.
Jola House is a social enterprise that integrates the traditions of Liberian and African textile designs with Western functionality for the contemporary home décor and accessories market. The company manufactures locally inspired goods for both regional markets and for international export. Jola House aspires to invest a portion of its profits back into the community that it employs. In order to achieve this the company recruits and trains women from vulnerable communities, as it is this demographic that is most likely to invest their personal income back into their families and the wider community.
What is your personal ambition?
The mission of Jola House is to reduce the economic inequality of women and youth by generating work opportunities and providing training in the design, production, marketing and export of “Made in Liberia” products. Our vocational and business development training will increase the number of women who have their own source of income, thus contributing to their family, community and society at large. At the end of our training programme, women have the skills to secure employment either at Jola House or at other shops and factories or even to start their own businesses.
What impact do you see your business making?
My business will positively impact Liberian society as it will offer training and employment to disenfranchised groups in post-conflict Liberia. It will market and export quality “Made in Liberia” products, which will drive the growth of the manufacturing sector and its associated in country supply chain. It will also expose international accessories and home décor markets to Liberian and African artisan design culture.
How do you see the future of your business?
In order to successfully grow, Jola House requires a further injection of capital to purchase tangible assets to help the business expand, such as sewing machines, a generator for a consistent energy supply and the construction of a permanent factory and showroom in Liberia. With such assets secured we could expand the production chain to other regions in Liberia which specialize in textile design. By doing this we could increase the training offered to the marginalised groups we aim to employ.