The economic recovery and new economy that will emerge from COVID requires us to look at how we access employment and what kind of employment is available. Women’s over-representation in casual work means they have been hard hit by the COVID-19 recession, and women’s over-representation in caring roles often makes it harder for women to find paid work that fits with their responsibilities.
The problem communities are facing is that the COVID-19 pandemic comes on the back of years of drought and bushfires, which have already visibly crippled livelihoods and impacted community wellbeing, especially in regional and rural areas. There is an urgent need for a holistic solution, not just to help communities recover from each of these crises and disasters, but to back communities in actively creating a more sustainable and resilient future.
Global Sisters operates in urban, regional and remote communities across Australia, providing place-based, face-to-face and online support to women to make business possible. Our Regional Hubs are the communities that we work in, and with, to increase economic participation for women through business creation.
“The reason we offer place-based programs is that when you see ten, then twenty, then fifty, then one hundred plus women-led businesses in a geographically defined area, you will see communities transform. You will see not only an increase in jobs, but also the social good that is created through businesses that are meeting local needs and the social capital of women running businesses”, Heather Thomson, Chief Operating Officer, Global Sisters.
Each of these communities has unique needs, assets and opportunities. And that’s where the Global Sisters In-a-Box model comes in.
The Global Sisters In-a-Box model is a social franchise approach that is driven by the community, for their community. Each Hub has its own “local flavour” and distinct identity, and is supported by Global Sisters with the resources, structures and support needed to back a groundswell of women-owned businesses.
The key principles of this model are:
1. Global Sisters is invited in
2. We have shared goals and values
3. The local business ecosystem is collaborative
4. We have a local “home” or space for Sister’s to connect, co-work and learn
5. The team on the ground is from that area and lives in the community.
The Hubs, or communities, where we’re currently working are as follows:
One of these Hubs is Wyndham, one of the fastest growing Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Victoria. Wyndham is a large area of Western Melbourne that includes areas with low SEIFA (Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas) disadvantage scores and higher averages of female unemployment than Melbourne averages. Currently the population of the Wyndham LGA is over 255,000 and is expected to grow to over 355,000 by 2026. The driver of the growth is relatively affordable housing. It’s also one of the most diverse LGAs in Melbourne, with a high percentage of refugees and migrants. The diversity is embraced and valued as a core strength of the community.
Global Sisters commenced working in the area in 2017 with migrant women in Hoppers Crossing through our partner HACN. Wyndham Council is a progressive council that is developing a considered, future-focused social and economic inclusion plan. In conversations with the Council in 2019, it became clear that their local goals around economic inclusion and development of the area included a focus on new businesses and entrepreneurship. Throughout 2019, we worked in collaboration with the Wyndham City Council to offer our programs, running My Big Idea workshops and Sister School from their newly constructed Western Leisure Centre.
The alignment of our goals, and the locally identified need to create new businesses that address the needs of the rapidly growing population (particularly in sectors such as health and wellbeing, F&B and retail) led to the establishment of the Hub in Wyndham.
We have been welcomed in by the Council and other key stakeholders in the community and our business ecosystem including Wyndham Community Education Centre, Gordon TAFE and The Smith Family.
“Global Sisters is a key part of our response to the economic recovery from COVID”. Janelle, Community Health, Wellbeing and Safety team, Wyndham Council.
Our local home in Wyndham is at the Tarneit Community Learning Centre (part of the Julia Gillard Library). This Council space was designed to be a place for entrepreneurship, innovation and networking and invited Global Sisters to be an activator of this space. Having a co-working and co-learning space is essential to our Regional Hubs, and whilst face-to-face activities have been temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will become the focal point for Sisters to connect and access our business education, face-to-face business meet ups and connection events.
Our Wyndham Community Ambassador is Bettina Mitchell. She is well-connected in the community, experienced in business and leads by example.
“My passion is learning and educating. I want to inspire women to secure financial wellbeing through doing passion projects for profit. I am an avid learner, a serial entrepreneur, a project manager and mentor” Bettina, Global Sisters Community Ambassador, Wyndham
Over the next three years, the Wyndham Regional Hub will make business possible for 288 women by providing the My Big Idea workshop. Around 180 women are expected to graduate from Sister School into our roadmap of Incubate and Accelerate support that includes on-going business education, microfinance, sales & marketing and coaching.
Currently we are supporting almost 30 women in the area. Ita, the founder of Salsitas, is just one of them. Read her story here.
Our intention in Hubs, like the one in Wyndham, is that we co-create a thriving community of female founders of new businesses who:
- Create jobs and income for themselves and their families
- Create jobs and income for others in the community
- Meet local socio-economic needs, create valuable products and services and contribute to the development of a new post COVID economy.
If you are interested in bringing Global Sisters to your community please contact Heather@globalsisters.org
Wyndham Case Study
Watch an interview with our Melbourne Region Hub Manager, Nikki, talking about the Wyndham Hub
Global Sisters: Wyndham Hub, Interview with Nikki