We chat to the organisation who provide genuine alternatives for women who aren’t able to participate in traditional mainstream jobs…
Who is Global Sisters?
Global Sisters believes that every woman should have the opportunity to be financially independent. We provide genuine alternatives for women who aren’t able to participate in traditional mainstream jobs. By removing the barriers they commonly face, our Sisters can work flexibly from home to build their own successful businesses, while positively impacting not just their own lives, but those of their families and their community.
Where and when did Global Sisters commence?
Global Sisters was launched in 2014 by Mandy Richards. Mandy is a social entrepreneur who is fiercely passionate about human rights, eradicating poverty and empowering women. Mandy, after living, travelling and working overseas as well as with social enterprises in Australia, saw the need for a solution overcoming the primary barriers stopping women to successfully start sustainable small businesses. The reality of 1.5 million women living with financial exclusion in Australia, and the ability to change their future with a flexible means of generating income, are the reasons Mandy Richards founded Global Sisters.
What are the objectives of Global Sisters?
We provide women with the tools, networks and resources to accelerate an idea into a thriving business. Our Sisters access support that enables them to create businesses that last, and businesses that allow women to stand tall. Each woman will start at a different point on the business development roadmap, but they’ll all access the right support, at the right time, every step of the way. Every journey is as unique as the Sister we support. Our approach embraces four essential facets, collectively allowing our Sisters to harness their potential and accelerate an idea into a sustainable business:
- Business know-how: Sister School is a practical business education program that enables women to get a business off the ground, and our business coaching program provides one-on-one expert business development support.
- Marketing and sales: We provide product and service development support, a business directory and marketing tools, as well as a variety of sales channels and opportunities including corporate and home-selling events, alongside an online store.
- Microfinance: We provide affordable, accessible and safe microbusiness loans to kick-start their business, and will be providing access to appropriate microinsurance to protect their business.
- Technology: Our technology platform is key in reaching women far and wide, efficiently and economically. We will also provide affordable access to smartphones that enable women to run their business and access our programs.
How have these objectives been achieved?
Global Sisters’ vision is to enable women to be financially independent. We currently support more than 50 Sisters and are poised to start scaling up across NSW, ACT and Victoria, as well as expanding into Queensland.
Our theory of change, or how we intend to create social impact, is as follows:
- Global Sisters supports financially excluded, low income women (Sisters) who are motivated to become self-employed.
- Sisters are provided with access to the right networks, resources and tools to start up and grow a successful business. These inputs are: Business Know-How (Sister School business education and business coaching), Microfinance, Technology, and Sales Channels and Marketing.
- The Sister creates a business that becomes a sustainable income source.
- The business supports her to be financially independent and ‘stand tall’. A ripple effect of positive change is then created within her family and community.
How can people support Global Sisters?
SHOP: Buy stunning gifts and home wares from our Sisters at www.globalsisters.org.
HOST A SISTER CIRCLE: Meet Sisters and learn the story behind the product at Sister Circles for corporates and individuals.
BECOME A BUSINESS COACH: If you’re a successful entrepreneur we’d love to talk to you about getting involved in our coaching program.
IINVEST DON’T DONATE: Contribute $ towards Global Sisters’ operational costs while we work on become self-sustainable!
JOIN THE #SISTERTRIBE: Get social and help promote our Sisters’ businesses on social media.
In one of those pinch yourself moments, Maureen Unasa says she regularly stops to ask herself, “How did I get here?” Reflecting on how her life has transformed in recent years, and how Global Sisters is helping her to build a financially-viable business, she sums it up as “one crazy ride”. After connecting with Global Sisters in 2013, Maureen says her life has done a complete turnaround.
“I’m no longer the mother of five who makes a few things at home. I’ve had my own pop-up shop and I won the visual arts open award for the pacific community here in NSW.”
Using traditional Samoan weaving techniques and contemporary materials, Maureen creates beautiful accessories that are markedly different from the products other weavers in her community are creating. “There are a lot of amazing weavers out there, but to my knowledge I’m the only person in the world to weave with curling ribbon,” she says. Re-using and repurposing materials wherever possible, Maureen takes functional items such as poly strapping tape or old clothes and turns them into earrings, bangles, bracelets and necklaces. These products are the basis of the business she has been building with the support of Global Sisters.
Maureen was matched with a business coach, a business owner and philanthropist, and one of the first coaches to come on board with Global Sisters. “Initially I didn’t want to meet him, but I’m thankful that I did. It has been a huge blessing having my coach by my side,” she says. In one of their first meetings, Maureen’s business coach posed the single, most important question she’s been asked while on this journey, “what’s stopping you from making more of these products?”. In order for Maureen to scale her business she needed to travel to Samoa to teach six women from her father’s village how to make her unique products. With the help of Global Sisters and her coach, Maureen was able to make that happen, securing enough funding to travel to Samoa for two weeks.
What was so fantastic about this trip is that as well as working towards her own financial stability, Maureen was able to create a connection with her culture and use her business to build up other women in her wider community.
What’s next for Maureen?
With her sights set on attracting the attention of international fashion houses, the next step for Maureen is to decide which products will define her brand, which is something Global Sisters’ network of expert product designers will help her pinpoint. “The business side of things scares me, but it absolutely fills me with confidence that Global Sisters are there to help me,” she says.
“What I love about Global sisters is that they are always there to support me, but they don’t dictate how you should do things. They understand that every woman’s situation is different and that you are balancing a whole life outside of your business, but they also know exactly when to give you a gentle nudge in the right direction.”
Weaving has allowed Maureen to transform her life and rewrite her future and she wants to help other women do the same. She hopes to run workshops for young girls to help them realise where their passions and goals lie. Speaking of her own daughters’ situation, she says “For my girls, their strength lies in their creative side. I don’t think they push that as much in school as they should. I want young girls to know that they can use whatever talent they have and make it work for them, provided they work hard.”