Back Her Brilliance

Global Sisters Annual Report 2018-19

Our Vision and Mission

Vision: A world where all women are provided the opportunity to create her own economic future

Mission: Making business possible

Unlocking the potential in every woman to own her economic future

An Le, Gifted + Fearless

Our Values

  • Business Done Differently

  • Women as Agents of Change

  • Sisterhood

  • Connection

  • Standing Tall

Janene Castillo, The Artspot

“The way they are structured makes you push. The deadlines keep us accountable and the expectation is set that we are treated as legitimate businesses”

Shannon, Melbourne Sister

Nina Kovacevic, Honey Raw Beauty / An Le, Gifted + Fearless / Kagi Kowa, Nubia Designs / Glenis Wilkinson, Yoga with Glenis

Global Sisters is focussed on achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals:

Lila Bate, bVitra & Sufia Alamgir, Sound Spell

Global Sisters Impact as of 2019

Australian Locations

Meet our Sisters

The women we work with are our Sisters…we are all walking side by side towards a common goal that will see gender equality, financial resilience, and self-employment as important outcomes. Our Sisters share a common thread that has brought them to us.  Their circumstances have created barriers to mainstream employment. Many are solo parents, carers, or women over 50.

Some have escaped domestic violence, and a large percentage represent the growing number of Australian women who have little or no superannuation for retirement. Together our Sisters rise above this with our support, as we offer programs that assist in the development of entrepreneurship as a genuine option. Our Sisters are at the core of all we do.

Lina Qasem

Cindy Barden
Lil Bug Love

Kagi Kowa
Nubia Designs

Glenis Wilkinson
Yoga + Meditation

Suzie Fletcher
Tidy Canberra Gardens

Emma Avery
Cloth Baby

Holla David

Cindy Chen
AMOK Sisters

Sufia Alamgir

Yoko Nakazawa
Cooking with Koji

Tarnya Brunier
Gourmet You

Single mothers

This year we conducted a literature review to gain further understanding of one of our target groups, single mothers on welfare to work.  Welfare to Work policy was put in place to assist those experiencing unemployment back into the workforce, however over the years it has become a punitive and conditional box ticking exercise for many.  As single mothers no longer have access to the higher paying Parenting Payment Single once their youngest child turns eight, and the more recently introduced Parents Next program has women on welfare being forced into mutual obligation activities to ‘earn’ their income support when their babies are as young as six months old, single mothers often fall into poverty while trying to manage a family, meet mutual obligations as well as look for meaningful work if they can, all on an unsustainable and insufficient level of income support.

Global Sisters can help single mothers who may be considering setting up their own business but who do not wish to enter the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme offered by the government.  In conducting the study, we are able to identify the main points of difference that Global Sisters offer women who are seeking financial freedom through their own business that schemes like NEIS are not able to. Understanding the specific barriers to single mothers breaking out of the poverty cycle will help us modify our program and support our sisters effectively for more sustainable results. We are also able to use the information from the study to inform our own policy standing regarding the welfare to work system so that we may participate in further advocacy on more of a systemic level.

Literature Review

Jacqui Thomas, Outdoor Memories

Women over 50

As an organisation, Global Sisters is committed to helping women over 50 in Australia as startling figures indicate that older women are the fastest growing cohort of homeless in our affluent country.  This year we did a review of current literature available surrounding this particular age group to gain a better understanding of what barriers and life events lead to them being so vulnerable in later life.  More often than not financial instability or even poverty effect women over time outside systems and entrenched social norms.  Unpaid caring work see women taking on precarious, casualised work (if any) throughout their working life to achieve flexibility required for their caring roles.   This not only compromises their immediate earning capacity but in the long term diminishes leave and other entitlement as well as superannuation earnings. For single mothers in this age group, unpaid child support over many years can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost income.

The aim of the research was to inform the work of Global Sisters on how to better understand and support our sister school participants through the program, eliminating barriers such as agism and harmful gendered norms from our program.  It has been shown that in a casualised economy more people are inclined to start their own businesses and yet women facing financial hardship often become more risk averse regarding entrepreneurship – we wish to empower these women and help them achieve their own financial independence whilst restoring personal agency and confidence. Additionally, we are using the research to establish a core set of policy positions whereby we can support these and other women at a more systemic level through advocacy at community, state and federal levels particularly in the areas of superannuation and housing affordability initiatives.

Literature Review

Fiona Cork, In The Gothic Manner

“Working with a coach has helped me shift my mindset, and pushed me forward. I have now recruited two employees. Which is a big shift in the organisation, and I can now depend on those employees. My progression has been really fast and deep and meaningful – Keeping in consideration that I am a mum of six and I need to keep a balance, and now I can finally have weekends off. I have structure now, and am taking steps back to find balance.”

Mona, Sydney Sister

Florence Olugbemiro, Designed by Florence

On the ground

Global Sisters supports Sisters in communities across five regions around Australia: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and North-East Victoria.

In each of these regions we work in wonderful, diverse communities like Logan in Brisbane, Darebin in Melbourne and Benalla in regional Victoria. Not only do we connect with Sisters in these communities but connect with our place-based partners, which includes Councils, local businesses, corporates, NGOs, entrepreneurship networks and the startup, to create a collaborative ecosystem of community and business support for the Sisters. This ‘place based’, ecosystem approach is critical to the success of our model and women’s economic participation in the community.

Each community that we work in has a distinct local feel and we invite you to learn more about the places where Global Sisters is making business possible.

Vanessa McFarland, Nessie Jane Designs

Read the regional reviews here

Brisbane Regional Report

Communities we’ve worked in:

Logan Central
Brisbane City


Number MBI’s: 2

Total Sisters participated: 23

Number SS’s: 2

Total Sisters participated: 20

Number new active businesses: 30

Brisbane Regional Report

Sydney Regional Report

Communities we’ve worked in:

Inner West


Number MBI’s: 3

Total Sisters participated: 27

Number SS’s: 1

Total Sisters participated: 16

Number new active businesses: 19

Sydney Regional Report

Canberra Regional Report

Communities we’ve worked in:



Number MBI’s: 5

Total Sisters participated: 35

Number SS’s : 1

Total Sisters participated: 21

Number new active businesses: 14

Canberra Regional Report

NE VIC / NSW Border Regional Report

Communities we’ve worked in:

Albury Wodonga


Number MBI’s: 6

Total Sisters participated: 56

Number SS’s: 3

Total Sisters participated: 30

Number new active businesses: 20

NE VIC Regional Report

Melbourne Regional Report

Communities we’ve worked in:

Greater Dandenong


Number MBI’s: 7

Total Sisters participated: 50

Number SS’s: 3

Total Sisters participated: 44

Number new active businesses: 21

Melbourne Regional Report

“Global Sisters was referred to me through the ‘Work Readiness’ program as part of Logan’s Women Centre. After I left my violent relationship, I stopped drinking and began to find myself. I live quite rurally, which can be isolating. The My Big Idea workshop was a highlight for me, as it allowed me to think differently about my future, and about what I could create. Being part of the supportive SisterTribe is what has kept me involved.”

A Brisbane Sister

Veronica Jordan, Culture on the Move

Our programs

Global Sisters provides a ‘roadmap’ of programs for women, aiming to make business and self-employment a genuine possibility for them.

The structural, systemic, cultural and personal barriers to business ideation, set up and launch often seem insurmountable and as such many women have not yet considered it as an employment option. Over 85% of Sisters start their journey with us at the earliest stage of business ideation. In addition to our core program offerings around Business Education, Incubate and Accelerate, the support from our business coaches, partners and peers provides the networks and community necessary for Sisters to thrive.

Download the Roadmap

We continue to learn a lot from our Sisters – what they need at different stages of business development and what they value most about Global Sisters – and this has informed the iteration of our program model. As we scale, our programs will be staged to provide relevant, timely and consistent support to Sisters throughout Pre Idea, Idea, Set Up, Launch, Startup and Growth stages.

View the infograhic

Madi Barca

Photographer: Kenn Santos

Our programs: My Big Idea

Over 85% of Sisters start their journey with us at the earliest stage of business ideation and we support them to not only generate a business idea but gain a vision of business as a real employment option.

We do this through My Big Idea, a half day experience where women start to consider where their skills, passions and market need coincide.  This could lead to them creating a business with our support, or it could help them land on a specific study or job pathway.

This year we ran 23 My Big Idea workshops, with 69% of participants going on to develop their business in Sister School.

Khushdilben Chokshi, Aum Yoga and Ayurveda Clinic

Our programs: Sister School

Sister School is our foundational business education program, supporting women to take their business from idea to ‘set up’ stage. It is a practical learning experience designed for diverse learning styles and levels of business acumen.

This year we ran 11 sisters schools, 10 face to face and 1 online, reaching 131 Sisters to establish their business foundations, create a visual business plan and pitch their business to a panel of business advocates.

Exciting new innovations in Sister School deliver have resulted in increased accessibility. While we have continued a face-to-face group format in communities where our Sisters live, we have also piloted a facilitated digital format, allowing women to participate from their homes and outside of work/carer hours.

Sister School delivers more than just business education, with outcomes including:

  • Establishment of peer and business ecosystem networks
  • Increased confidence
  • Clarity on product/ service offering, customer and business model
  • Better understanding of their relationship with money and the basics of cash flow
  • Ability to market test
  • Creation of a “launch stage” brand and marketing channels
  • Development of a business canvas to articulate their business concept and plan their launch
  • The ability to pitch their business concept to peers and representatives of the local business ecosystem.

Many of the Sister School participants went on to launch their business and continue receiving our ‘roadmap’ of support. Read more about our Business Education programs on the Global Sisters blog.

Read More

Colleen McCormack, Magknitude

Our programs: Microfinance

We continue to offer two types of business loans to Sisters who have completed Sister School – a Start Up Purse and a Growth Wallet, designed specifically for early stage businesses.

To date, we have made four loans, with two fully repaid and active loans showing 100% on-time repayment. The business loans are provided as part of our overall roadmap of support, rather than a stand-alone finance product, and this is a key reason why repayment rates have been so successful, as is careful screening of applicant’s capacity to repay and analysis to project the impact of the loan on their business income growth.

In the early stages of business, Sisters typically prefer to reinvest profit, use savings or borrow from family and friends rather than taking formal finance. Our experience has been that when Sisters reach late stage start-up or growth stage, ie when they have market tested and refined their offering, they are then interested in business finance.  Sisters have used their loans to buy raw materials in bulk, for marketing costs, business skills development and transportation.

Business insurance remains the primary financial product needed by Sisters, and as such we are working with partners to ensure Sisters can access simple, affordable and relevant business insurance.

Microfinance brochure

Shahla Namvar, Sculptures of the Earth

Our programs: Coaching

Through the coaching engagements provided to Sisters, we offer timely, relevant, bespoke support to achieve their individual goals. This year 62 coaching engagements provided expert support ranging from brand, website, accounting, business systems, business modeling and sector specific know-how and networks such as food businesses.

We have recently refined our Coaching program by developing a portfolio of coaching offerings tailored to the Sister’s stage of business. For early stage businesses we will provide group coaching addressing mindset, confidence & accountability challenges. For start-up and growth stage businesses we provide access to bespoke, tailored business development support.

Mary-Anne Scully, Global Sisters & Valda Murray, Valda F Murray

Our programs: Sales & Marketing

Product development and retail was fast-paced and full of learnings. While working with Sisters to develop over 100 new products to be released onto the online store, we realised that to ensure this was beneficial for Sisters and Global Sisters, a strategic plan to support its growth is now needed to support product development as we scale.

Many incredible opportunities were embraced and delivered with grace and professionalism by Sisters, including collaborations with the National Gallery of Victoria, King Living & the Global Sisters Christmas Campaign 2018 & 2019.

As our programs evolve so does our understanding of what Sister businesses need as they move their businesses forward to access markets and increase sales. As such we have redeveloped our definition of the stages of business and identified key points in the Roadmap where further support could be developed and implemented. The three key areas were business viability, sales and marketing education and high-level bespoke coach matching – a powerful trio to help launch Sisters into their next phase of business growth.

In terms of the ‘Retail and Product Development’ aspect of Global Sisters, there was a clearly defined need to provide access to ‘industry-specific education’ earlier in the Sisters business education journey and to consolidate and clarify how best to support Maker Sisters. With three years of learnings to inform next steps Global Sisters is excited for the innovative solutions that are being developed as we shift gears into a scalable offering.

Lila Bate, bVitra

Our programs: GLO

Global Sisters GLO Youth Challenge is a two-day workshop designed to empower young women from disadvantaged backgrounds with the enterprising skills and confidence to create their own employment, to become entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs. We’ve been able to run this program over the past 3 years due to the generous support of our founding partners Citi Foundation.

Nine GLO workshops were run across Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and regional NSW during 2017-2019, empowering young women with the enterprising skills of design thinking, brand and logo design, digital literacy, financial literacy and pitching. A total of 42 new business ideas were created to solve a real problem in these young women’s communities.

The funding provided by the Citi Foundation has enabled Global Sisters through the GLO Youth Challenge to plant the seed of entrepreneurship in 290 young women across the East Coast of Australia and provide them with a possible career path of autonomy and independence, in essence, empowerment.

While our role in this project has now come to an end, we are thrilled to hand over to Mission Australia to continue this important work.


See GLO in Action

Sister Pitch

In November, with the support of AMP, we hosted our first ever pitch event with a difference. Ten female entrepreneurs from around Australia courageously told their stories and pitched their businesses to a room of over 120 Global Sisters’ supporters. They each pitched for two business wishes which would tangibly help take their businesses to the next stage; from digital marketing support to videography, branding, photography and access to specialist advisors.

Almost all of their wishes were granted by the room full of inspired guests, big and small business owners and business specialists, with a few surprises thrown into the mix, including a live crowdfunding campaign.

See the pitches and get a feel for this inspiring event here, the success of which has earned it a place as an annual event on our calendar.


new female owned businesses were supported


dollars pledged in
pro bono services


new business
connections made


dollars in growth
funding was raised

Watch the pitches

Social Impact

When speaking with our Sisters, what we have discovered is the impact of our MBI and SS programs, Incubate and Accelerate coaching and support, and our online and place based Sister Tribe is so much more than just seeing women ideate, create and activate business. Sisters always comment first on foremost on the confidence and community they gain, from their first interaction with Global Sisters. We are finding that the broader impact (or ripple effect) of Global Sisters transcends into all aspects of a sister’s world – many find themselves coming to us from extremely isolated environments. After joining GS they feel empowered, and become influencers, and role models to their children and family. And beyond that they are the biggest supporters of the other women who they bring alongside them for the ride. When the brilliance of each individual woman is realised (first by herself) and backed by those around her we see a community changing. A woman with a supplementing, or sustaining income will invest into her home and family. She will invest into the women around her, and she will curate a business that is good for her, good for her community and good for the planet. It’s incredible to be witness to how Global Sisters is shaping culture, through women taking the lead. That is our social impact.

Impact Report

Carla Risco Rodriguez, TREE KID

“It still blows my mind how much support and involvement you offer and create. I feel like I’ve barely begun to utilise everything available. Thank you so much for what you have collectively created. Tomorrow marks 1 year for my business. Party time!!! Yet so much more work to do to.”

Colleen, Magknitude

Maureen Regan, The Gut Shoppe

Sister Tribe

Our Sisters tell us that no amount of words can truly describe what it means to be part of the Sister Tribe. The sense of community and connection, support, fun, learning, and hope that comes from being part of our Tribe can quite literally be life-changing. Of course, there are learning outcomes every step of the way, and business iteration, creation, and implementation are a core focus of the Tribe, but that sense of belonging to something that is much bigger than any one individual is enormously empowering. As one Sister recently put it “The Sisters are almost like one voice. Having that team around you and hearing their stories, it does something: you realise that this thing is a lot bigger than you and you make sure that it works out. It stops you from quitting. I doubt I could have done it without them – I am learning about life from these amazing women.”

Milia Simielli, Milia Simielli Handmade / Corina Muir, Amber Days / Giselle Diego, Global Sisters

Our Sisters

Amy Nguyen’s
Zen Tea Lounge

Maryan Aziz
Ma-aki Soy

Lila Bate

Cheryl Tomlinson
Your End of Life Guide

Nikki Hind
Blind Grit

Celeste Ianott

Colleen McCormack

Khushdilben Chokshi
Aum Yoga and Ayurveda Clinic

Minerva Jimenez
Minjums Foods

Carla Risco Rodriguez

Edith Muruka

Aroma Iftakhar Hussain
AR Iftakhar Creative Design

Roji Bhattarai
Nepali Mitho Momo

Alli Kristiansen

Jessica Hughes
Jams for a Cause

Cat Edwards
Happy Cat Productions

Our Partners

Our Team

Mandy Richards

Heather Thomson
Chief Operating Officer

Sharon Fraser
Chief Financial Officer

Tara O’Connell
Head of Digital

Lisa Edinburg
Strategic Projects

Mel Harwin
Head of Social Impact

Gershon Nimbalker
Policy and Advocacy Advisor

Mary-Anne Scully
Accelerator Lead, Hume

Sandra Lloyd
Accelerator Lead, ACT

Asja Svilans
Accelerator Lead, Brisbane

Giselle Diego
Accelerator Lead, Melbourne

Sugandha Chapman (Sig)
Accelerator Lead, Melbourne

Corina Muir
Accelerator Coordinator

Lauren Wilby
Project Management Lead

Victoria Keitel
Product Development Lead

Kylie Petts
Visual Storyteller

Victoria Bowring
Accelerator Lead, Sydney

Simone Novello
Head of Corporate Partnerships

Christine Corcoran
Accelerator Lead, Brisbane

Our Board

Mandy Richards

Deanne Weir, Director
Weir Anderson Foundation, Chair Ai-Media

Michelle Dixon, Director
CEO & Partner, Maddocks

Caitlin Iles, Director
Partner Capital xx

Nick Garrett, Director
CEO Clemenger BBDO

Richard Denniss, Director

Our Ambassadors

Nicole Eckels
Sapphire Group

Pearl Chan

Alex Riggs

Mirabai Winford
Purebaby Organic

Kate Sutton

Cristina Re
Cristina Re

Diem Fuggersberger
Berger Ingredients

Terri Winter
top3 by design

Jo Dampney
Skin Juice

“Global sisters is the Yin and Yang of business – the soft and hard skills. Business courses tend to focus totally on the yang, but here I’ve learned the yin too which is just as important. I’ve been inspired ‘to create a bigger vision’. After becoming part of Global Sisters, I am now working ON THE BUSINESS, rather than always being IN THE BUSINESS, my business mind-set has completely changed.”

Glenis, Brisbane Sister

Smitha Shankavaram & Lokeswari Mangalagiri, Wrapturous


We continue to increase our retained surplus after another year of income growth and careful financial management.

This year we were able to more fully diversify our income streams, with a more even proportion coming from corporate, philanthropy and government than in previous years. Our focus on sustainable revenue and passive income streams has meant continued growth in these areas.

2019 saw a majority of our expenditure on programs that directly support our Sisters, while slightly increasing our spend on social impact. Our infrastructure costs are low due to the generosity of our partners providing services at pro bono or discounted rates.

Financial report 2019

Ekhlass Nasir, Ekhlass Sweets

What next

We have been developing a 5 year strategic plan and have designated the next 12 months as a learning year. We believe sole parenting mothers as well as women over 50 are two under serviced, high potential groups in need of flexible income generating opportunities – where we can have significant impact. As we focus our support here, we will continue to iterate and innovate for greater depth and breadth of impact, while continuing to track what this impact is, directly and in the broader picture of health and wellbeing, generational change and community. We are streamlining our model and increasing the suite of support services and products, as well as the accessibility to these. Concurrently we are maintaining critical connection and growing our Sister Tribe community. We are also working to influence government income support policy, in order to enhance the opportunities business ownership offers.

Emma Avery, Cloth Baby

Help us reach more women

Over the past 3 years we’ve been creating a movement…a growing ripple of women who come to us because they are ready to take back the reins and create their own financial resilience – not only for them, but also for their family and community. These remarkable women, our “Sisters”, are often single mums, women on welfare, over 50’s, perhaps survivors of domestic violence, and sometimes from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. They share a common thread, and that is that due to their circumstances they’ve been experiencing financial vulnerability…but they’re ready to change things, because it’s their time now.

We’re extremely proud of this impact, but we want to do more. We have big goals. We want ALL women to have the opportunity to create financial resilience and independence. We want ALL women to have the chance to start their own business. And we want ALL women to have access to the resources and support to make this happen…but we can’t do it alone.

There are many ways you can support our work and thus support our Sisters:

Corporate Partnerships
Our focus intersects gender equality, financial resilience, education, employment, and community participation. Our innovative model has attracted partnerships such as AMP, King Living and Deloitte. Let’s discuss how we could work together for impact here

Business Coaching
The opportunity to use your (or your team’s) expert skills, knowledge and experience through 1:1 coaching with our Sisters or via online group sessions are a great way to have an impact and meet CSR goals. Get in touch

Shop with Impact
Ethical gifts and gift-boxes, such as our Festive Feat Campaign, comes complete with our Sister’s unique stories, and are a great way to support our Sisters. Shop now

Become a 1% Champion
The simple, low touch but highly effective 1% model is ideal for any business. To find out about becoming a 1% champion contact us here.

Fund one of our education programs and give 15 women like Glenys the opportunity to transform their lives, creating a positive ripple effect within their family and community.

Photographer: Sonia Catherine, @mountgloriousphotographer


Join our movement

Mandy Richards, CEO
Heather Thomson, COO
General enquiries

Follow us

ABN 36 162 363 180.
PO Box 4077, North Curl Curl 2099, NSW