AMP is committed to diversity in all its forms and one way we help support this is through the work of our AMP Foundation community partners. Today, on Harmony Day, we shine a spotlight on one such partner: Global Sisters, a non-profit that helps women of all backgrounds to become financially independent.
by Mandy Richards
On Harmony Day, we celebrate the fact that ‘everyone belongs’ and this is a message embedded in the DNA of Global Sisters – the non-profit I founded to empower women of all backgrounds through micro businesses.
Harmony Day is time to celebrate diversity and respect. And let’s face it, the world would be incredibly grey if we all looked, talked, acted and sounded the same and shared the one history and culture.
The businesswomen we support at Global Sisters – our Sisters – are extraordinarily diverse in age, culture, ethnicity and religion. And the story of each is as unique as the face that shares it.
We walk alongside hundreds of women: from farmers in Victoria to refugees in Sydney, Indigenous women in the Kimberley and domestic violence survivors in outer Brisbane. Each one looks and sounds different to the next, but all are intent on carving out a future of financial independence for themselves and their families. And they are all offering services and products through small business that contribute to society in multiple ways.
"The businesswomen we support at Global Sisters – our Sisters – are extraordinarily diverse in age, culture, ethnicity and religion."
I am a big believer in the law of attraction. The ripple effect has been an important part of our reason for investing in the women we support. When we help one woman by providing business training and mentoring, we are not just investing in her, but also in her family, her friends and her community.
The ripple effect is both wide and deep. Our Sisters regularly tell us how proud their children are of them. They are changing the future of their children by example. These women inspire me every day by their courage, resilience, determination and their support of each other. They all add to the richness of life for those around them.
Take Yarrie Bangura, a 2016 AMP Tomorrow Fund recipient. This vibrant young woman came to Global Sisters with the idea of sharing a special drink from her homeland of Sierra Leone, which she escaped from during the civil war. During an 18-month period, Yarrie worked with three business coaches and our team to develop a formula, ran market tests, created branding and learned what was required in terms of hygiene, shelf-life and labelling.
We also helped her to complete Sister School – the Global Sisters business education course – and paid for her to gain a food safety certificate while providing sales support. The result is Aunty’s Ginger Tonic, a delicious drink that offers not just a taste experience but also a link to the women of Sierra Leone who traditionally create and share it.
Then there’s Cindy Chen. As a Cambodian refugee who spent her childhood in refugee camps, she had little opportunity to gain a formal education. Hungry to learn, she grabbed whatever scraps of newspapers she could find and taught herself English.
After losing three brothers to war, 19-year-old Cindy was offered refuge in New Zealand with her mum, dad and brother. A survivor of two marriages overshadowed by domestic violence, she’s one of the strongest women I know. This determined woman has created AMOK, an incredible social enterprise that offers delicious Cambodian catering and provides employment and hope to around 20 other Khmer women.
Meanwhile, Wiradjuri chef Jo-Ann Wolles is building up Goanna Hut. Specialising in contemporary food infused with native ingredients, this business is flying along. Jo-Ann has big plans to start a food production facility as an employment pathway for Aboriginal youth and is using her AMP Tomorrow Maker grant to launch a retail range, starting with bush medicine teas.
The colour for Harmony Day is orange. I always tell my little boy when I squeeze oranges it’s liquid sunshine. I hope Harmony Day can be a day of sunshine for everyone that creates lots of amazing ripples of kindness.
Mandy Richards is CEO of Global Sisters.
Find out more about Global Sisters - an AMP Foundation community partner – here. If you or someone you know is working towards a special goal, just like Yarrie and Cindy, apply for a 2018 AMP Tomorrow Fund grant. Application open on 5 April.