Alison Valenti and Sophie Musumeci are two Sydney-based women who are breaking down barriers for…
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Global Sisters, a not for profit organisation, has launched with a unique approach that encourages and supports financially excluded women to become financially independent through self-employment. Through use of technology and business coaching, Global Sisters is offering end-to-end support to develop successful women’s micro business.
In Australia, 14 percent of women are living below the poverty line, and 1.5 million experience financial exclusion. Global Sisters believes that every woman should have the opportunity to be financially independent.
Global Sisters provides genuine alternatives for women facing social or economic vulnerabilities, or who aren’t able to participate in traditional mainstream employment. By removing the economic participation barriers they commonly face, Sisters can work flexibly to build their own successful businesses while positively impacting not just their own lives, but also those of their families and their community.
Through partnerships with major businesses including Citi and Myer, and a host of business coaches from sectors ranging from food production to fashion, Global Sisters is breaking down some of the critical barriers faced by women when trying to start a business. These barriers include technology, sales channels, knowledge and education, and access to business finance.
Equally as important, Global Sisters provides a support network of other women for those in the program to turn to. Referred to as the Sister Tribe this support is something that, for an isolated individual, is impossible to place a value on. With a focus on women who are refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, Indigenous Australians, and at-risk youth, Global Sisters aims to provide a path to entrepreneurship that would not otherwise be available through:
Sister School: a practical business education program provides business coaching and expert support to help Sisters get a business off the ground.
Marketing & Sales: in addition to the online store, Global Sisters provides access to a business directory, marketing tools, and sales channels and opportunities including corporate and home selling events.
Microfinance: provision of affordable, accessible and safe micro business loans, and also on the agenda is provision of micro insurance to protect businesses.
Technology: the Global Sisters technology platform is key in reaching women far and wide, efficiently and economically.
Founder and CEO of Global Sisters, Mandy Richards, is a serial entrepreneur who in 2009 won reality TV show Dragon’s Den. Turning her attention to social entrepreneurship, she founded Global Sisters in 2013 and says, “Global Sisters allows women who find themselves trapped by their circumstances to start to dream and act for a different future. Both big and small business has the power to create significant social change globally, and investing in the future of our Sisters translates to stronger families, stronger communities, and a stronger economy. I fully believe that our goal of creating a world in which no woman is financially or economically excluded is an achievable one.”
The innovative Global Sisters program is considered a world first, and coinciding with the official launch of the program is the launch of the Global Sisters retail website – a central place for Sisters with product based businesses to showcase and sell their products.
With a focus on investment, not donation, the Global Sisters online store provides a tangible outcome for many of those in the program, as well as a place where those who want to support the initiative can do so by conscience and community-led shopping. The Head of Retail, Elizabeth Henegan, says, “We wanted to offer consumers access to beautiful homewares and giftware, with a life-changing story behind it. Our retail is all about curation with a conscience, where there is a 360-degree impact in the supply chain, from the creation of the product to the packaging to the fulfilment. We sell beautiful things for real change”.
Operating on the belief in a ripple effect, Global Sisters recognises that by empowering women to become financially independent through small business and entrepreneurial opportunities rather than charity, the benefits go beyond the immediate recipient.
A small home based or mobile business can remove a woman’s dependence on government welfare, and create a revenue stream that enables her to support her family and herself, whilst also benefiting the economy in which she is working. Businesswomen not only become active economic participants, but also role models and community leaders.
Image (sourced): Global Sisters, Yarrie Bangura