Social Impact Report 2020

Back Her Brilliance

Incredible things happen when you back women. When women are given skills, connections and support they so often miss out on, there is no stopping them. They break down barriers, force change and move us all on. They start-up and grow businesses, lift up communities, and make the economy a more equal, more inclusive place. All these women need is the same backing given to everyone else. Global Sisters: Back her brilliance.

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Social Impact at Global Sisters

Framework & Methodology

Social Impact at Global Sisters

Making Business Possible

We make business possible, unlocking the potential in every woman to own her economic future. Global Sisters provides a long-term ‘roadmap’ of support to help women generate a business idea, put the foundations in place, launch and grow the business. We provide no-cost business education, incubate and accelerate programs, microfinance and networks over a 3 year period.

Sister Roadmap

When Global Sisters launched operations in early 2016, there was a clear identified need: women across Australia were being excluded from economic participation, and an opportunity for financial independence, because of their circumstances and systemic, structural barriers. Business and entrepreneurship were largely not even on the table as an option for our Sisters and we set out to make business possible for them.

In our first iteration of the model – Global Sisters 1.0 – we designed and delivered a place-based, face-to-face program, and in doing so, refined our understanding of the barriers and needs of our Sisters. In this start-up phase, we implemented effective solutions that created impact across 5 regions of Australia. As of Q1 2020, we’ve reached over 1357 women, with over 850 Sisters participating in our educational activities. There have been 216 new businesses launched as a result of Global Sisters.

Through the start up period (2016 – 2019) we learnt a lot around the specific needs of our target cohort, the program model and how to create impact and the requirements for scale. We intentionally limited our scale in this phase whilst we validated the need and refined the effectiveness of our programs and impact.

In 2020 we launched Global Sisters 2.0 – this new strategy and model is focused on a digiblend that is enabling us to reach and impact women across Australia.

The numbers and stories of change featured in this report capture the entire impact of our first model, from 2016 – the beginning of 2020 and a new digital era.


women, with over 850 Sisters participating in our education activities

Global Sisters Impact as of Q1 2020

Starting point for women


women are ‘discouraged job seekers’, ABS


Single Mums are on parenting payments, DSS


or 48% of Newstart Allowance recipients are women, DSS


million women are financially excluded, CSI/NAB

Global Sisters operates in Australia where, despite being  a high income country, there is increasing income inequality, child poverty rates, single mum headed households and older women without superannuation or assets and at risk of homelessness. Our welfare system is broken and counter-productive. It was designed for a different era, is punitive and not achieving welfare to work outcomes. Women are being pushed into low paid, unstable employment that does not recognise their circumstances or provide the opportunity for long term financial sustainability.  Self-employment is given minimum consideration in federal employment policy and strategy.  When women are given skills, connections and support they so often miss out on, there is no  stopping them. They break down barriers, force change and move us all on. They start-up and grow businesses, lift up communities, and make the economy a more equal, more inclusive place.

Incredible things happen when you #BackHerBrilliance


million under / unemployed and only 250,000 jobs available nationally

(Katy Gallagher, Australian Government)

All these women need is the same backing given to everyone else

In 2019 we undertook research directed at understanding the barriers and opportunities that exist for two specific cohorts of women in Australia – Women aged over 50 years and single mothers. Here is a snapshot of some of the findings – for more insight on the research to date please read our two research papers.

Single Mothers

  • Single mothers engaged in Welfare to Work programs are typically placed in low-paid and precarious jobs that afford little immediate or long-term financial security however there is also a lack of recognition in policy of the personal and structural barriers to sustainable employment experienced by single mothers. This includes the need for paid work that will offer immediate and long-term financial security and the flexibility to meet their children’s needs.
  • One in five Australian families are headed by single parents and the clear majority (83 per cent) of these are women
  • 32 per cent of single parent households now live in poverty – up by six per cent since 2011.
  • 56 per cent of single mothers with dependent children are in paid work. However, they are likely to be employed in low skilled, low paid and unstable jobs.
  • Employment of single parents generally increases with the age of the youngest child, from 40 percent when the youngest child is eight years old to 76 per cent when the youngest is aged 15-24.
  • A massive 59 per cent of single parents with dependent children who rely on government assistance as their main source of income live in poverty – up by 24 per cent since 2013.
  • 39 per cent of children from single parent families live in poverty, compared with 13 per cent of children in coupled families.
Download Research Paper

Australian Women aged over 50

  • Women’s superannuation balances are grossly insufficient due to breaks in paid work during the prime reproductive and child-raising years
  • The average length of time job seeking for those unemployed over 55 was 68 weeks, largely due to age discrimination and a false set of beliefs that this age group is ‘out of touch’ or unskilled.
  • Women over 65 are the fastest-growing homeless demographic
  • Informal (unpaid) care is at its peak for women in the 55 – 64 age group with just under 25% of women in this age group participating in unpaid care
  • Dominant industries in 2017 for women are Health Care and Social Assistance, Education and Training and Retail Trade which are some of the lowest-paid sectors that also rely on shift work or hours that are not family-friendly.
Download Research Paper

The Real Life Barriers for our Sisters

Global Sisters is committed to understanding the real life barriers that women believe are holding them back from pursuing business as an option. Our Sisters report that confidence (67%), financial support (56.16%) and limited understanding of how to navigate self-employment (44%) were the biggest barriers to them. Other significant barriers women raised included “no training or idea of where to start”, “no support from those around me”, “feeling isolated” and “no resources”.




Financial support


Help to navigate self-employment

Comparatively, when asked what top three things that encouraged them to explore self-employment or launching a business the highest response were ‘Having a flexible option for income generation’ (53.42%), ‘being more available to family/dependants’ (49.32%), and ‘curiosity – self-motivation’ which 45.29%. The top two answers are interwoven, showing that the women are prioritising their need to take responsibility for more than one area of their life, such as their caring roles and need to be able to generate income either through paid employment or self-employment.


Flexible income generation


Being available to family


Curiosity & self-motivation

Business as a Starting Point

The business start-up and incubator/accelerator sector in Australia is, as its name suggests, focused on the start-up stage and beyond – that is, people who have a clear business idea and need the support to get that idea off the ground. Typically this can only be accessed by well educated and networked people, who conform to the mainstream start-up world and dominant understanding of business success and sustainability.

Global Sisters intentionally targets women who are also excluded from the start-up sector. Not just because of their circumstances but often because they have not even contemplated self-employment or business as a viable option for them. By supporting women at the pre-idea stage of business, we are addressing a gap in the market that has not been tackled head-on, with an end-to-end, one-stop-shop approach, by any organisation or group nationwide.


of women came into Global Sisters at the Pre-Idea or Idea stage

In early 2020 we conducted a Social Impact survey of our sisters who are either in the incubate or accelerate phase of our program. What we found solidified our approach focused on womens inclusion. 70% of women came into Global Sisters at the Pre-Idea or Idea stage.

Now we have 72% of sisters in either setup, launch, start-up or growth. An interesting finding to note was 40% of women who participate in our My Big Idea haven’t ever considered business as an option. Global Sisters remains at heart an organisation “Making Business Possible” breaking down barriers for women, and creating a pathway for them from pre-ideation.

We are proud to report that 31% of women still in the three year roadmap program already have start-ups or growing business’.

“I had around 30 business ideas and didn’t know which direction to follow. However through the Sister School process I Identified the areas that I was interested in and good at, with a gap in the market which excited me. I didn’t know and couldn’t find the direction myself, but the process smoothed the way for me. I discovered who I am”

Jo Diver, Owner of The Backyard Enthusiast

Our Impact To Date

In our first iteration of the model – Global Sisters 1.0 – we designed and delivered a place-based, face-to-face program, and in doing so, refined our understanding of the barriers and needs of our Sisters. In this start-up phase, we implemented effective solutions that created impact across 5 regions of Australia. 

The impact of our Global Sisters model 1.0 is:


1357 Women impacted
692 participants in My Big Idea, our business ideation program
504 Sister School graduates, our business education program
952 women participated in our education activities


219 Businesses selling
158 New businesses that have launched as a result of Global Sisters support

Communities & Business Ecosystem

203 registered business coaches
50 business coaching sessions x multiple Sisters

Impact Across Australia

Who Are Our Sisters

Source: Social Suite data, March 2019 / 2020 Social Impact Survey

Our Program as a Solution - Sister Roadmap

“Global Sisters takes you on the journey from beginning to end. It’s also very flexible and very practical. They walk you through the whole experience."

Partnership and Coaching Impact

Partnership is a core value within Global Sisters and essential to our operations. We see the impact of the organisation as twofold. The input of time, resources and knowledge, and the output for sisters. The outcomes of investing in building our community are the connections sisters make, along with bringing together the broader business community as they contribute to broader social change, beyond their own business and expertise. This is what makes our organisation unique. Valuing both ends of the partnership.

To date:


Received in pro bono support for the Global Sisters organisation, and our Sisters individually


Pro bono coaches currently on the Global Sisters database


Coaching sessions happening with individual or multiple sisters (as of March 2020)

Significant support partners who have championed this are; T2/ Unilever, Clemenger, Berger Ingredients, Cristina Re, Myer, Maddocks, Winky Farm, Social Media Success Academy and AMP.

For our Sisters having our pro-bono coaches work with them, share their knowledge and guide them has an immediate impact not only from the initial implementation into a Sister’s business but in the confidence that is built from someone investing time, belief and confidence in them and validating their work, their dreams, and their pathway into Entrepreneurship.

The impact is two-fold, for our coaches get the thrill of seeing an ‘aha’ moment as a Sister gets a breakthrough and the knowledge that the capability built via their support is an asset the Sister will forever keep as her own whether in this business or in subsequent endeavors as she goes forward.

“Being a pro bono coach for Global Sisters has been such a positive experience for me...I am the happiest when I see that the Sisters are making breakthroughs towards their goals”

Melissa, Foodie Industry Circle Coach

Impact case study: Sister Pitch

In November 2018 and October 2019 with the support of AMP and Launch VIC we hosted our Sister Pitch event with a difference. Both events had ten female entrepreneurs from around Australia courageously telling their stories and pitching their businesses to a room of 285 Global Sisters’ supporters. Each Sister 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. At both events, 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. We also had a Global Sisters Market set up where sisters who were not pitching could take the opportunity to sell their products and feature their businesses.

To experience a taste of the event please watch the Melbourne Event here:


dollars pledged in pro bono services


dollars spent on Sister products at the Sister Pitch Markets


dollars in growth funding was raised

“Sister Pitch was a transformational experience for me…The experience and the learning curve was immense; the personal connection with the other sisters and the common vulnerability has created a bond.

Mona Mohamed,
Community Support Services Inc

Mona’s Pitch Experience

Mona Mahamed is a mother of six children, living in Bankstown, Sydney. Mona is of Egyptian heritage and was born and raised in Australia. Mona’s passions for making a difference and helping people led her to found Community Support Services Incorporated, a social enterprise she pitched to an audience of 165 in Melbourne at our Sister Pitch Event in 2019

“Sister Pitch was a transformational experience for me, it was the first time I had been away from my children, the first time I had stayed away from home and the first time I had the chance to pause. Everyone, who attended reached out and asked me ‘What do you need? And how can I help?’ It was the first time this happened without me asking.

I made a connection with attendees before pitching in my market store, and it was the same people I connected with who pledged the support when I pitched. Initially, after the pitch, I was beating myself up until Gay said ‘you should be giving yourself 10/10 for giving it a go’. The experience and the learning curve was immense; the personal connection with the other sisters and the common vulnerability has created a bond.

 The next day, it was all sinking in and I realised how transformational it was to be still and reflect. Since getting back to Sydney,  have stepped up as a leader and it has given me the courage to make difficult decisions and truly take the helm of CSS and the vision I have for it”

Framework & Methodology

Our Framework & Methodology

“The success of Global Sisters is based on the real-life impact it enables in women’s lives. As an organisation we need to be able to see and know that change is happening, and accurately attribute those changes to our programs and tailored support. Once we are able to measure this impact, the best part is watching the stories unfold, and our bigger story, which is every day we see women across Australia moving forward in their lives, backed in their brilliance”.

Mel Harwin, Head of Social Impact and Community

Theory of Change

Social change happens at many levels. Global Sisters believes that positive change for women, their families and their communities comes out of simultaneous and complementary changes at three levels. Within the Sister themselves, within their household and within their community. The diagram visually depicts these levels of change. The Global Sisters Theory of Change is a logical framework that sets out the interventions that are expected to lead to specific short term outcomes (outputs) and longer-term outcomes (lasting change).

The problem

Global Sisters operates in a high-income country with increasing; income inequality, child poverty rates, single mum headed households and older women- without superannuation or assets, and increasingly at risk of homelessness. Our welfare system was designed for a different era, is punitive and not achieving welfare to work outcomes. Women are being pushed into low paid, unstable employment that does not recognise their circumstances or provide the opportunity for long-term financial sustainability. Self-employment is given minimum consideration in federal employment policy and strategy.

Global Sisters solution and theory of change

Global Sisters exists to make business possible for all women and to create a world where every woman is provided the opportunity to build her own economic future.

Direct Impact

Individual, Family & Community Change

Australian women, especially single mums and women over 50 need sufficient, stable income and access to decent, dignified work that fits in with their personal circumstances and addresses structural barriers. As a society, we need to prevent and break the cycle of family-based poverty.


Single mothers, carers, and women 50+

Women who face structural barriers to employment


We measure this direct impact through data collection and analysis, connected to our updated (2020) Social Impact Framework and Theory of Change.

Increasingly women report that a significant outcome of Global Sisters for them is the community it creates, generates and allows women to contribute to.  With social isolation being one of the biggest barriers to women pursuing business as an alternative to mainstream employment, creating community and connection for women remains a programming priority to Global Sisters.


Women finding economic freedom through self-employment

Immediate, short term outputs

  • Increased business acumen and skills, & entrepreneurial abilities.
  • Increased # of women-led business start-ups trading.

Intermediate outcomes

  • Increased viability of businesses.
  • Increased financial resilience.
  • Increased sense of purpose & confidence.

Impact: Long term outcomes

  • Economic freedom: women are self-employed and earning their own income.
  • Self-determination: women have freedom to make choices and have agency over their lives.


Women as agents of change

Immediate, short term outputs

Increased sense of possibility and hope.

Intermediate outcomes

Increased sense of purpose & confidence.

Impact: Long term outcomes

  • Women ‘standing tall’ and role-modeling strength, purpose, and resilience.
  • Increase in women’s leadership in family and community.


Women increasing their independence

Immediate, short term outputs

Increased number of women-led business start-ups trading.

Intermediate outcomes

Increased viability of business.

Impact: Long term outcomes

Reduced individual and family reliance on Government support.


Women creating vibrant communities

Immediate, short term outputs

Increased business networks and community.

Intermediate outcomes

  • Reduced social isolation
  • Increased connection to & engagement with local and digital business ecosystems.

Impact: Long term outcomes

  • Increased social capital (individual and family).
  • Positive health outcomes (mental health).
  • Community-level socio-economic development.


Women as valued economic participants

Immediate, short term outputs

  • Increased business acumen and skills, & entrepreneurial abilities.
  • Increased number of women-led businesses trading.

Intermediate outcomes

  • Increased viability of business.
  • Increased # of ‘good businesses’- businesses that were created to positively impact people and planet.

Impact: Long term outcomes

  • Increased employability.
  • Increased value of the businesses.







The Global Sisters Social Impact Framework © was initially developed in 2016, with and for our Sisters. Sisters, Business Coaches, Community Partners, Funding Partners, Board and our team came together to identify the change we wanted to create when business is made possible for all women. An initial 20 impact domains were identified and refined down to 5 domains, with measurable outcomes for each one. After our first three years of programming; stakeholders, including Sisters, came together to evaluate our progress towards our outcomes, and understand in realtime what we impact is evident, and the changes Global Sisters can attribute to our program offerings and Sister community. At the beginning of 2020 we revised our initial Framework and added another outcome domain: Connection.

The 2020  Social Impact Report has analysed our data to date relying on our Theory of Change and updated Social Impact Framework. It accounts for where we have been, what we see and our progress towards intended outcomes and impact.

Increasingly women report that a significant outcome of Global Sisters for them is the community it creates, generates and allows women to contribute to.  With social isolation being one of the biggest barriers to women pursuing business as an alternative to mainstream employment, creating community and connection for women remains a programming priority to Global Sisters.

Impact Levels & Domains

Change happens at many levels

Global Sisters believes that positive change for women, and their communities, comes out of simultaneous and complementary changes at three levels. Within the Sister themselves, within their household and within their community.

Domains of change

When Sisters have the business acumen, confidence, connections, skills and opportunity to learn safely and in the right environment, are listened to, healthy and safe, and given opportunities both financially and in-kind they thrive.

When those in their household are enabled to live in a safe, engaged, informed and healthy way they can partner with their greater community and, together, flourish. Likewise, cohesive and enabled communities can support households and women at an individual and collective level.

All these levels make up important components to create sustainable impact. That is why Global Sisters works across individual, household and community levels to achieve change.

The Sisters we work with are important partners in creating positive change for themselves and their communities.

National & International Comparisons

Our indicators are both sister centric, and internationally comparable. We have a series of indicators which will allow our team and Sisters to track progress, against their own intended outputs and outcomes and also our broader intended ones. These selected indicators also allow for the  aggregation of data to be able to tell our organisational  impact story and see the contribution Global Sisters in making to the Sustainable Development Goals, Financial Capability of Australian women and appropriate OECD DAC measurement indicators to evaluate the effectiveness, appropriateness, efficiency, impact and sustainability of our programs:

SDG Goal 1: No Poverty

Global Sisters relevant indicators:
Indicator 1.2.1: Proportion of population living below the national poverty line, by sex and age
Indicator 1.2.2: Proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions

SDG Goal 4: Quality Education

Global Sisters relevant indicators:
Indicator 4.3.1: Participation rate of youth and adults in formal and non-formal education and training in the last 12 months, by sex
Indicator 4.4.1: Proportion of youth and adults with information and communications technology (ICT) skills, by type of skill
Indicator 4.5.1: Parity indices (female/male, rural/urban, bottom/top wealth quintile and others such as disability status, indigenous peoples and conflict-affected, as data become available) for all education indicators on this list that can be disaggregated
Indicator 4.3.1: Participation rate of youth and adults in formal and non-formal education and training in the last 12 months, by sex
Indicator 4.4.1: Proportion of youth and adults with information and communications technology (ICT) skills, by type of skill
Indicator 4.7.1: Extent to which (I) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development, including gender equality and human rights, are mainstreamed at all levels in: (a) national education policies, (b) curricula, (c) teacher education and (d) student assessment

SDG Goal 5: Gender Equality

Global Sisters relevant indicators:
Indicator 5.4.1: Percentage of time spent on unpaid domestic and care work, by sex, age and location
Indicator 5.5.2: Proportion of women in managerial positions
Indicator 5.c.1: Proportion of countries with systems to track and make public allocations for gender equality and women’s empowerment

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic

Global Sisters relevant indicators:
Indicator 8.3.1: Proportion of informal employment in non-agriculture employment, by sex
Indicator 8.5.1: Average hourly earnings of female and male employees, by occupation, age and persons with disabilities
Indicator 8.5.2: Unemployment rate, by sex, age and persons with disabilities

SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

Global Sisters relevant indicators:
Indicator 10.1.1: Growth rates of household expenditure or income per capita among the bottom 40 per cent of the population and the total population
Indicator 10.2.1: Proportion of people living below 50 per cent of median income, by age, sex, and persons with disabilities
Indicator 10.4.1: Labor share of GDP, comprising wages and social protection transfers

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Global Sisters relevant indicators:
Indicator 12.8.1: Extent to which (I) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development (including climate change education) are mainstreamed in (a) national education policies; (b) curricula; (c) teacher education; and (d) student assessment

Business Development Principles & Approach

Inclusive and Gendered

Women experience gender specific barriers to economic participation, decent work and business start up. Isolation, structural exclusion and lack of networks are barriers to women’s participation in entrepreneurship. Other providers in the ecosystem typically support one target group (ie refugees or Indigenous people) and primarily in urban areas – this only serves to further isolate, exclude and limit. We support all women who need our support, and in doing so are building a more connected and inclusive community. We apply a gender lens to our model and program design. We focus exclusively on women as confident women become agents of change, creating a better society for us all. Global Sisters wants to have the greatest impact possible in breaking generational poverty.


Confidence and developing self-belief are the scaffolding that underpins all our programs. Confidence is the starting block for Sisters to be able to begin a business journey. Global Sisters builds women’s confidence from the very first interactions at My Big Idea, and continues to develop their self-belief over our “roadmap” of long term support.

Connection & Networks

Many Sisters are socially isolated. The heart of Global Sisters is connection and our community. Business cannot succeed without connection and backing. The networks and connections that mainstream entrepreneurs take for granted are intentionally created for Sisters, locally and nationally. Global Sisters facilitates the transfer of value from established businesses to those emerging in the form of time, knowledge, networks, services & sales.

Cost (fully subsidised)

Global Sisters is the only national, fully subsidised, long-term (roadmap) program for women. Whilst we expect Sisters to contribute via ‘sweat equity’ and our community, keeping the cost fully subsidised enables participation. We work to enable affordable business solutions through partnerships so that Sister businesses can move forward (ie Insurance).

Physical Accessibility & Flexible Delivery

Geographic location, transport availability and cost, disability and carer responsibilities limit women’s accessibility to business support. Due to the diversity of Sisters and their circumstances, a flexible delivery model is essential for national accessibility and impact. To this end, Global Sisters will be offering both place based, blended digital and digital programs that work around women’s circumstances.

Our place based model is adaptable to urban and regional contexts, and operating regionally is a priority for Global Sisters.

Tech & Finance Access, Literacy & Capability

Technology access and capability is critical to business development and is built into our delivery model and all our program interventions. Financial access, literacy and capability are critical foundations to business creation and self-employment. In order to make business possible for women in Australia, we also need to make sure they have the financial knowledge, skills and confidence, to apply them in their personal and business finances. Like tech capability, this is integrated into our model and programs and embedded in our social impact measurement.

Community Lift

Our place based approach intends to not only lift individual women but sees their contributions and value in the context of the whole community. A tipping point of women led businesses in a community can create community lift.
We tackle the problem from two angles: directly with women and their communities and the structural/ systemic issues as the root cause. Our policy change/ advocacy work is aiming to address the barriers to participation including structural and regulatory issues around Government welfare and the disincentives to entrepreneurship. We believe that this will have a significant impact on solving the problem and lifting our whole community.

Global Sisters believes in business done differently; business that is sustainable, good for people & planet and kind to animals. We encourage circular economies, ethical procurement, collaborations and “give back” programs built into Sister businesses. Creation of good businesses leads to community lift.

Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning Framework

As the implementation of our Global Sisters 2.0  model kicks off, so does our supporting Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning Framework (MEAL). During 2019 as we began to build and pilot our new strategy, the team at Global Sisters also took some time to evaluate and learn about our impact and impact measurement system to date. Our framework and program logic for 2020-2024 now includes six Domains of Change. We have three levels of program outputs and outcomes for each stage of the roadmap where we will be tracking and mapping change to.

Hierarchy of Impact

Below is our Hierarchy of Impact for sisters as they complete each of the programs (phase) of their sister journey. It illustrates the immediate changes we can expect to see, then onto those we would expect to see within 1-6 months, and lastly the changes that happen from 6 months onwards.

Business Education

Business Education includes the three main activities facilitated by the Global Sisters team for sisters – My Big Idea, The Business Idea Check in  and Sister School.

Immediate Outputs

Sisters are supported and accessing the skills and resources they need to launch their business

Sisters are connected with the Global Sisters community

Sisters are hopeful about the profit and success of their business and trust their idea

Sisters have a business model/plan to move forward

Sisters have increased business knowledge and acumen

Sisters see business/self-employment as a genuine possibility

Short Term Outcomes

Sisters are able to set up an online and/or physical shop/sales channel

Sisters can clearly articulate the problem their business is solving

Sisters are able to clearly identify where they can access support/help for their business

Sisters have a clear business model and can see where they can make profit

Sisters are ready and able to launch their business

Long Term Outcomes

Sisters have increased self-worth

Sisters have increase confidence – as business owners/women

Sisters have tested their pricing and looking at pricing alternatives

Sisters have additional income to provide for their families/themselves

Sisters are accessing Global Sisters tools and resources, and are active in the Global Sisters community (online or place-based)

Sisters are taking new skills into gaining employment or further education/training


Incubate kicks off with an Induction, and includes the First 10 customers program, business viability check-in and 90- day planning sessions. This is also when Sisters are accessing our online support, tools and informal education pieces via the FB Tribe. Once a Sister enters this part of her Global Sisters journey, she also has access to coaches and accountability buddies. We have included below the desired outcomes for a coach supporting Global Sisters.

Immediate Outputs

Sisters are connecting with other Sisters – online or in place

Short Term Outcomes

Sisters have made their first sale

Sisters are making regular sales

Sisters have a clear sales strategy to reach income goals

Sisters confidence has increased

Sisters are clear on who their customer is and where to find them

Sisters give back and share with the tribe about their business experience

Sisters are doing further training/education/ certification

Long Term Outcomes

Sisters are accessing pitch and business support opportunities outside Global Sisters

Sisters are supporting other Sisters


This is the final stage of the Global Sisters roadmap, where Sisters enter their Industry Circles program, access Microfinance and Insurance and bespoke coaching.  We expect that active business’ are growing, and women are confident as business owners, giving back to their ecosystem and the Global Sisters community.

Immediate Outputs

Sisters are working alongside other Sisters in their business

Sisters have an active business

Sisters feel connected to other Sisters

Short Term Outcomes

Sisters are making regular sales

Sisters are employing staff/outsourcing contractors

Sisters have made long term financial plans

Sisters are connected to the business ecosystems

Sisters are accessing tailored support

Sisters are able to move through business blockages

Long Term Outcomes

Sisters know how to run their business in a profitable way

Sisters are financially resilient

The indicators we have selected as an organisation are both internationally and nationally relevant, but also just importantly they are Sister and program centric. It’s important that we understand our contribution to the economic participation and empowerment of women at all levels, and we are aggregating our data to be able to tell our own organisational impact story and see the contribution Global Sisters in making to the financial capability of Australian women, the wellbeing of families and communities in Australia and progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Taking into account the OECD DAC measurement indicators when we evaluate our programming we are trying to answer and iterate to ensure effectiveness, appropriateness, efficiency, impact and sustainability in all our work.

The data both qualitative and quantitative including our sister stories featured in this report capture the entire impact of our first model, from 2016 – the beginning of 2020. Global Sisters used our new MEAL framework, and data collection system to collate and analyse the data. This report is the summation of our qualitative and quantitative sister data collected throughout the past 3-4 years. Data from impact questionnaires, Sister Chats, strategic interviews and ongoing monitoring data from our Socialsuite surveys, was collated, coded, and analysed. We mapped out the emerging themes and looked to find where we could see indicators being achieved and attribute changes under relevant outcomes. We also launched our “Ripple Interviews” to capture the stories and voices of those important people in our Sisters’ families or communities. Our Global Sisters team were also used as a  secondary source of information to triangulate data, particularly around our program effectiveness and impact across the organisation.

“Global Sisters advises Sisters to conduct regular and on-going market research. We do the same. We speak directly to our Sisters to learn about their motivations, needs and goals - and to deeply understand the intended and unintended impacts in their family and community”.

Heather, Chief Operating Officer

Socialsuite surveys (on-going):

Outcomes surveys tracked the original 5 impact domains for each Sister. There were 11 points in the Roadmap where Sisters completed a survey and the data was housed and analysed in Socialsuite, our social impact tracking tool. Baseline data sets were collected in early 2018 and we started collecting outcomes data in mid-2018. For the purpose of this report, the current data to date was collated and aggregated alongside the Social Impact Survey.  With the change of programming, these surveys are currently being reviewed and will include ongoing indicators, and new ones to include the sixth outcome area. They will also allow questions for ongoing monitoring of outputs. The entire suite of surveys will be finalised by June 2020 with a minimum of 6 survey points along the 3 year roadmap, with more if the Sister stays in Incubate or Accelerate phase for a longer period that the minimum period. 

Social Impact Surveys (Evaluation Survey):

Point in time survey for all Sisters in Incubate and Accelerate. ⅓ of the sisters completed the survey as a rigorous sample size. These surveys included questions related to business activity and income, evaluation of current programs and the opportunity for Sisters to feedback into the program. The data was analysed and reported by the Social Impact Team at Global Sisters.

Sister Chats (point in time):

Semi-structured group and individual interviews with over 100 current Sisters in all places across Global Sisters operations. These have happened throughout 2018, 2019 and 2020. The data from these chats are coded, themed and analysed to map back to outcome areas and get a greater sense of success’ challenges and impact.

Ripple Interviews:

Individual interviews with partners or dependants of our Sisters, as a source of secondary data. These interviews allow family members to offer Global Sister’s insight into changes happening within the family, and community as a result of the program. These have been launched in 2020 and this report includes data from 3 interviews.

Rapid Evaluations:

Program-focused investigation that involved output data collection from Sisters, program management and cost analysis. As the piloting of programs has taken place over 2019/20 we have conducted 5 main rapid evaluations, as an iterative process for collection and analysis.

Impact across our Outcome Areas

Biggest barriers for our Sisters




Financial support


Help to navigate self-employment

When asked to reflect on the biggest barriers to exploring self-employment in the past, our recent survey indicated the top three responses were confidence (67%), finance (56.16%) and lack of understanding how to navigate self-employment (44%) indicating a combination of all ingredients to being an entrepreneur; self-belief, financial backing and business understanding.

A Global Sisters Solution

Global Sisters creates Sister impact by providing a ‘roadmap’ of long term support. Sisters can access the support they need specific to where they are, and what their needs are:

● Business education for women at the pre idea, idea, and setup stage
● Incubate support for women at setup, launch and early startup stage
● Accelerate support for women at late start-up and growth stage

Each of the three programs offers a menu of activities and support the women can access:

● My Big Idea and Sister School Business Education
● Momentum Coaching
● First Ten customers program
● 90-day planning and goal sessions
● Facebook Live Training Events
● Industry-specific Coaching
● Business finance and insurance*

* insurance coming via a partner in 2020

We measure the impact of these activities as the sister navigates through the ‘roadmap’.

Business Acumen

Business Acumen

Our strength-based approach helps Sisters identify and draw on their existing knowledge, skills and experience – and that is built on through a continuous learning and application cycle, not only at the beginning of our programs but throughout the 3+ year roadmap. We expect that as a result of our programs Sisters have increased knowledge and skills to take action and make business possible in their lives, Sisters are orientated to using technology and Sisters will have increased business viability.

We believe business acumen and entrepreneurial qualities can be learnt and we provide opportunities for continual practical education that addresses specific business skill and development needs. Our business education is blended digital and face-to-face, and flips the classroom, enabling real entrepreneurial experiences and peer learning to come to the fore. Developed business acumen is when a Sisters says “I have established and embedded strong business foundations, through the enhancement of knowledge, skills and networks.”

Business Education & Learning

The Global Sisters inputs to develop business acumen and entrepreneurial competence are:

  • My Big Idea workshop and Sister School program
  • Incubate first sales program and opportunities
  • Monthly Business Meet-Ups: Learning and business development sessions
  • Digital learning through our online community
  • Peer learning and local business ecosystem education opportunities.

The immediate outputs are:

  • Active and on-going engagement in learning. For example, the online Sister community engagement peaks on Tuesday evenings during Tuesday Teachings, with an annual average of 19 comments at that time.
  • A business canvas (visual business plan) and ability to pitch the business
  • Ability to apply learning in business as evidenced by their stage of business progressing.

The outcomes we are seeing are:

  • Self-reported increased business competency and acumen being the second most important turning point for them (following confidence and self-belief as the most important change- see Empowerment)
  • Evidence of increased competency in businesses being incubated and progressing (see Enterprise)

“There are a lot of events for businesswomen in heels, but because I am on a disability pension it’s very difficult for me to get to those events because it’s like ‘$65 for a breakfast’ or something like that. Before hearing about Global Sisters I had been struggling to find support and a circle of women to be involved with, with my business”

Canberra Sister

Our unique business education programs are:


Delivery is highly flexible and adapted to the needs of the individual and cohort (for example, women in remote Aboriginal communities).


It is a blend of digital and face-to-face learning to allow for different learning styles, digital literacy and location (or other barriers to access).


All our education programs are experiential learning – we create the space to learn by doing.

Flipped Classrooms

Our learners are the experts and we draw on their strengths and experience.

Business Ecosystem Integration

Our business education is integrated into the local business ecosystem opportunities.

“I now have the confidence, self belief and skills to know I CAN DO IT!”

Sydney Sister

“I’m now working ON the business, rather than just IN in the business.”

Glenis, Brisbane Sister, Glenis Wilkinson Yoga & Meditation



of Sisters attribute starting up their own business to the program and support of Global Sisters Business Education

Entrepreneurial Perceptions


of Sisters graduate from Sister School strongly agreeing or agreeing that they now have new knowledge and skills to do business well

Business Practices


of Sisters graduate from Sister School with a completed business canvas or plan

Business Networking


of Sisters know that Global Sisters helps you access business networks and opportunities such as Sister-Tribe & Business Coaching

“I genuinely feel like I wouldn’t be doing this without Global Sisters, nor would I be progressing…I am feeling extremely supported”

Jacqui Thomas, Outdoor Memories

Jacqui’s journey

Jacqui is a single/solo parent who was interested to see if a business was something she would like to explore. She was encouraged to explore self-employment and launching a business after a friend encouraged her to look at Global Sisters. This recommendation was specific because it was tailored to women and provided a flexible option to learn about business. Jacqui identified some of the barriers she needs to overcome to exploring self-employment; low confidence, a lack of support from those around her, a lack of training or feeling like she has no idea where to start, lack of financial resources and a lack of understanding of how to navigate self-employment. Jacqui leans on the Global Sisters support, complemented with other business mentoring.

The top areas where she feels Global Sisters has impacted in Jacqui’s life and business are; Connecting her to a community of women; Creating a clear business canvas; Connecting with stockist/ distributor and/or other business relationships.

She takes advantage of all the support Global Sisters offers, participating in the business meet-ups, 90-day planning sessions, online Sister community, 1:1 meeting with GS team – Sister Pitch, and GS provided coaching. On average she accesses someone from the GS community monthly.  Jacqui feels beyond satisfied with the free support.

“They turned a thought into an idea into a dream that’s going to become a reality! They give me motivation, belief, confidence and many skills!”



Sisters’ businesses are a vehicle to financial wellbeing, empowerment and choice, so we want to track enterprise, growth and sustainability. Layered on top of this are the specific goals of the individual Sisters and her motivation for establishing the business. We expect that as a result of our programs sister will have achieved a variety of outcomes; increased employability, be able to identify new income possibilities, have a business that is moving, increased confidence to take action, explored a business idea, be demonstrating entrepreneurial abilities, is able to navigate the business ecosystem and their business is activated. The indicators we are tracking over time are the stage of business (and the time it takes to move between stages), business practices, enterprise productivity, access to networks and business performance. When a Sister says, “I am developing a sustainable business”, she means she is creating a business that will last and enable her to reach her goals.


Current Stage of Business


“I’m interested to see if business is something I would like to explore”



“I have found a business solution to my customers’ problem – and this idea could really work!”



“My idea has been further developed and I am ready to make some sales”



“I have my first 10 customers, I have chosen a business model & I know I can make a profit”



“My business is on the path to breaking even. Access to experts & networks will help me achieve my goals”



“I’m the proud owner of a profitable business that’s helping me achieve my goals”


As of Q1 2020, the Sisters currently engaged with Global Sisters were at various business stages, with the majority in Launch and Start Up stage. In 2019, 86% of our Sisters started their journey with us at the Pre Idea or Idea stage. Given this, we can see that there is a rapid progression to incubating the businesses. Supporting Sisters to accelerate the businesses to Growth stage is, as anticipated, taking time.

*weekly income around $400 per week for individual or $800 per week for family **(weekly income greater than $600 per week for individual or $1200 per week for household)

Business Progress

Global Sisters supports businesses to be established and developed through our ‘Roadmap’ of long term support. The length of time it takes to incubate their business and accelerate their business is dependent on a number of factors:

  • Type of business – our experience is that food sector businesses take the longest to incubate due to regulatory and licensing
  • Employment and Government benefits status
  • Carer responsibilities
  • Housing and general stability of personal circumstances
  • English language proficiency and tech capabilities.

Overall, we see a strong preference to spend a period of time (6- 18 months) market testing, conducting action research and iterating so that they are confident that their offering is meeting customer needs before starting to grow. Global Sisters not only encourages this but actively supports it through our “incubate” support.

We find that Sisters take a slow, sustainable and holistic approach to start-up whereby they often dip in and out of the business start-up, as they find ways to generate income for their initial investment or alternative ways to finance it. We see this as a success, as a Sister approaches her business with a balanced and long-term view.

A national survey of 73 sisters who have graduated Sister School and currently part of our Incubate or Accelerate phases showed the progress (as an average) of Sisters from where they begin their business journey with us, to where they are now.

As of Q1 2020, a sample of Sisters found that majority of women start at pre-idea or idea (51 0ut of 73, so almost 70%). After Sister School, 29% of these 51 women are working on the business in Set-Up stage, and 32% even in Launch and beyond!

Types of Business


Product & Service


Diverse Businesses

There is no one way women do business and no one business type. Global Sisters supports women in all different sectors:


Food & Beverage


Clothing & Accessories


Training, Educating & Consulting


Health, Beauty, Cosmetic


Domestic, Landscaping & Gardening Services


Apps, STEM & Tech

How Active are the Sisters

Graduates of Sister School are working in or on their business varying hours per week:


Spend 32 + hours


Spend 16-32 hours


Spend 8-16 hours


Spend 4-8 hours


Spend 2-4 hours

“I’ve had a good experience and it’s a very caring organisation. Global Sisters is not there to do your business, but helps you to step out the process”.

Ita Andehui Lopez, Salsita – Authentic Mexican Salsas

Ita’s journey

Ita came to Global Sisters with two business ideas – salsa and jewellery. She believed doing the viability health check helped her clarify that the salsas were a more viable business option for her. She began at the pre idea stage and has now launched her business in just under three months. Living with a disability and coming from a migrant background, Ita had previously attended a few business startup courses but had found that often she did not look like an equal. For Ita, Global Sisters gendered lens, that sees and backs her brilliance is what she believes sets Global Sister apart. “You can’t be as vulnerable when males are in the room…having the support of my Global Sisters contact, as she broke it down to baby steps and showed me how easy it could be to do those smaller things, grounded me. It gave me emotional confidence.

Pre-Idea to Launch in 3 months

When I first started on this journey I just wanted to make an extra $300 per week. Then I thought it would be so cool to grow and employ immigrants and it would become my main source of income.

Place Based & Ecosystem Connected

Sister businesses are accessing business education, peer support and networks, and importantly, sales and market opportunities through being connected into the business ecosystem. This looks different for each Sister:

  • For Jackie this meant being connected to both the education and community. Global Sisters has enabled Jackie to develop her confidence, find support and training and learn how to navigate self-employment
  • For Ita, the value in a gender-based education opportunity, where the facilitators and team understand each women’s unique journey and cater to that.

“Women have a continued demand for face to face connections. As we strengthen our digital presence, it is equally important to nurture and grow our place-based operations to respond to Sisters and Partners’ needs.”

Laura Fontaine, Head of Programs

Financial Wellbeing

Financial Wellbeing

Financial wellbeing in Global Sisters means more than just increased income. It creates an environment whereby a Sister is able to adequately meet expenses, is in control of their finances and feels financially secure. For many of the Sisters, the idea of financial wellbeing is centred in creating safety and security for themselves and their dependents. That may look like being less reliant on welfare programs, or being able to have a little extra in their savings.

Financial wellbeing is when women have been able to lower the burden of financial pressure in their lives, have social capital to rely on for support and navigate the financial system in Australia to meet their own needs. This outcome reflects more than income and business profitability.

Independence & Resilience

Global Sisters want to ensure our Sisters have increased their own ability to save, access additional income, insurance and loans. Our long term goal is to see women out of the welfare cycle and maintaining a reliable full time or supplement income stream for themselves. As a direct result of our programs, we expect Sisters will have gained some of the following; professional skills for employment, achieved their first sales in their business, be self-employed, have increased their income, have a business that is moving from startup to growth, have financial resilience, a sustained income being generated, and their social capital is increasing.

Our organisation is primarily working with women who are considered to be experiencing severe financial stress and vulnerability.


of Sisters are receiving Centrelink payments or are unemployed / underemployed when they first engaged with Global Sisters

When surveyed during the Sister Chats, over half the Sisters (58%) reported a belief that they see their business as a source of financial independence. Both the ability to create this for themselves, and the self-belief that it is possible, supports outcome achievement for both financial resilience and empowerment.

For 42% of Sisters, the goal or belief was that the business would be a supplement to their income, reflecting the different reasons why Sisters set up businesses. Connection, community, flexible and meaningful work are being identified by Sisters as significant motivators for business creation.

Financial Independence


For Sisters who want to be financially independent the journey is a long term one. As identified in the Enterprise section, typically we see a business incubation period of between 6 – 18 months and business acceleration from the 18 month – 2 years mark. Whilst we do not have the long term data available yet, the trajectory is that it will be a minimum of 3 years before 100% of their income comes from the business, and longer before it becomes a sustainable source of income that impacts their financial resilience.

Headway is being made in ensuring Sisters have access to fair, affordable financial products and services that contribute to their financial resilience. In addition to the business loans Global Sisters offers, we have listened to Sisters who have overwhelmingly said that their primary financial need in their business is insurance. Global Sisters has partnered with Suncorp to develop Australia’s first microinsurance product specifically for Sisters. It is expected that the product will be made available to Sisters in mid 2020.

“I do want it to be my only source of income, to get off Centrelink and start to give back & support my kids. I see the business as a 3 year goal”.

Brisbane based Sister, founder of a social enterprise

“The fact that it is free is incredible. I don’t have any financial backing for my business. I often have to use part of my pension for my business”

Canberra Sister

“Making Business possible has meant that I have been able to secure finance for my business to grow”

Hume Sister

Income Doubled

Our Sisters have more than doubled their weekly income since being involved with Global Sisters

Before Global Sisters


Average weekly supplementary income earned by our Sisters

With Global Sisters help


Average weekly income of Sisters currently involved in our Incubate & Accelerate programs

Making Employment Possible

What we do is make business possible for women, but we also see the added impact of women being able to access employment, as a result of skills and confidence they develop through the Global Sisters roadmap. Our data of graduates of Sister School is that ⅓ of our sisters believe that Global Sisters has been impactful in helping them secure employment – beyond self-employment or starting a business.

Social capital also operates as a safety net that surrounds women and their dependents when the external shocks hit. In creating a community for women to access and contribute to, we are supporting each Sister developing a network of support.

The Facebook Sister community is an online space we have created for Sisters to share ideas, ask questions, access resources, teachings and come across funding and grant opportunities. When isolation is one of the biggest barriers facing women, we are ensuring we meet them where they are; In their homes, on their phones and somewhere safe and accessible – 60.29% of Sisters ranked the Facebook community as being where they felt they have received support from Global Sisters.

“Yes, I do [see business the business as becoming source of financial independence]…I have to.

Next year I’ll be 60 and I don’t know how long I’ll have but its very important to me that I am able to support myself through this next decade.

Being assessed by the Department of Housing and being told I am at high risk of homelessness is really scary.”

Brisbane based Sister, Founder of a health and wellness business



Global Sisters believes to be empowered is to ‘stand tall’. It’s when a woman can confidently say, “I see myself as a real businesswoman, with dignity, opportunity, freedom and choices”.

Empowerment is an over-used word that is complex, multi-layered and extends far beyond self-confidence and self-belief. But it is the best word to describe women when they are standing tall, challenging societal discrimination, able to make strong, informed choices for a better future, are free from oppression/ violence and feel they are in a position to ‘give back’ to others.

We measure Empowerment by tracking changes in entrepreneurial self-efficacy and perceptions as well as willingness to assert oneself. “It has given me the opportunity to express myself for the first time in my life.” – Brisbane Sister

“Global Sisters helps me stand tall, stand like a woman”

Tigi, Sydney Sister, at the session where Global Sisters developed our social impact framework.

Standing Tall

Empowerment is not an easy thing to define and measure, but that is what Global Sisters is attempting to do.

We define empowerment of Sisters when they are:

  • “standing tall”
  • challenging societal gender discrimination
  • able to make strong, informed choices for a better future
  • in a position to ‘give back’ to others

Over time we are tracking changes in women’s empowerment, with evidence of change from our very first interactions with Sisters in the My Big Idea program.

In creating a space, which is contextualised to women through location and content they walk away already feeling supported and often with a sense of value and significance.

Lack of confidence and self-belief is a major barrier to business start-up and growth for many women. Particularly those who are; unemployed, single mums, women who have experienced trauma and violence, retrenched at 50+, or returning to work after a period of caring for young children. The changes we expect to see for Sisters as a result of being involved in Global Sisters are that they are clearly demonstrating to our community that being a businesswoman is possible, they have increased self-awareness and efficacy and they report an increased sense of purpose and confidence.

Improvements in confidence and self-belief

The most significant change Sisters reported to date on their journey with Global Sisters is improvements in confidence and self-belief.

When asked the top three areas whereby they felt Global Sisters had impacted their life and business, the responses were evidently related to empowerment and connection:


Inspiring and giving me hope


Building my confidence


Connecting me to a community of women

Almost half our sisters report that Global Sisters biggest impact has been:


Taking the steps to launch my own business


Courage to continue in a business

“Even though I come from a family of business people, I must be the only one in my family who has no business confidence. And I couldn’t go to anyone in my family for help because I’m just supposed to know.

My community is very business orientated and coming to Global Sisters was the best thing for me- and I’ll probably never leave this environment because its really inspiring and really does help and motivate people to actually get up and do something even when they feel they can’t do it”.

Sheefa, Brisbane Sister, Catering & events

“Global Sisters is a community where women are banding together to lend each other power and belief, to help each other rise up”

Alli Kristiansen‎, Diilhami: Soul-splashing art and inspiration

Alli’s journey

Alli started with Global Sisters in 2019, graduating from Sister School in August 2019. After running a business for 5 years, her chronic fatigue was debilitating and she hit a breaking point. In late 2018 she thought to herself  “I can’t do this anymore… I said to the universe ‘I’m done, I can’t do this anymore”

Alli is an artist, and although she has cards she sells on her Etsy stores and stock in shops, she is still barely paying bills. In late 2018 Allis’s friend from Albury messaged her by the way Alli, have you heard about Global Sisters “I got very teary after finding out about the organisation.”

“The fact that it is free is incredible. As I don’t have any financial backing for my business. I often have to use part of my pension for my business. I’m very passionate about my art, but I’m also very passionate about women. I’ve spent 20 years mentoring women and counselling women, but because of my health I am not doing counselling at the moment as it’s just too draining”

Global Sisters has encouraged me to do markets and offered me a professional photoshoot, which is just amazing!

Alli believes being part of Global Sisters has given her hope. For a lot of women trying to “Raise themselves up out of difficult circumstances…domestic violence, Sisters coming from trauma, and refugee backgrounds it creates and feels like you are seen in your life, and you matter. Whatever it is – whether it’s making little dumplings, or soft toys or art, whatever it is it is…what we really begin to see and feel is that YOUR LIFE MATTERS. You can make a difference, you can have an impact, you can raise yourself up out of trauma and difficulty and challenge and you can feel like your life is counting for yourself and for other people.”

Sister Case Study: Jessica

Jessica is a single mum of 5 kids. She is a dedicated carer of her children, some who have special needs. Jess has lived through horrific trauma and violence. The battles she has faced, and still faces, seem insurmountable, but she is a survivor. There are 250,000 single mums on parenting payments in Australia and Jess came to know Global Sisters through Parents Next, a pre-employment program for parents receiving Government parenting payments. Jess wants to be financially independent but due to her parenting responsibilities of young children with special needs and a high-risk pregnancy, a 9 to 5 job is not a realistic solution for her.

Download Jessica's Story

“They don’t want to see me fail. That’s what I get from Global Sisters. I don’t ever feel like I’m being set up to fail. And so many places in life do that. Whether its consciously or sub-consciously they don’t put enough effort into the beginning bits and you get set up to fail. Global Sisters doesn’t do that. They set you up to succeed. 

And that was my biggest fear – I was scared of success. Because I’m so comfortable with failure – it was my comfort zone. Even now when I find things getting too big I start to shrink again – and I go to the Global Sisters team – they’re my go to”.

Brisbane Sister



Influence is the change domain where Global Sisters is most focused. It is about the impact a family and community encounters only when women are able to be financially independent and standing tall. Initially we thought that we would only see a change in this impact domain in the long term, but in fact, we are seeing a change from our earliest engagement with Sisters. We see connections being made, role modelling and skill sharing from My Big Idea which is snowballing throughout a Sisters journey.

Our desire is to have all Sisters confidently say “I am building influence within family and community. I am actively creating a ripple effect of change.”

When women are supported to start or grow a business, receive ongoing training and coaching, find a community of like-minded women and start seeing the benefits of additional income, the ripple effect into their families and our communities is exponential. As a result of our programs, we expect to see an impact in the number of women-led business’ in Australia where strong purposeful women are standing tall and role modelling. This will impact on community vibrancy and social capital across women’s lives. We expect to see Sisters giving support back to other sisters, and making an  Increased contribution to their local and digital ecosystems.

Peer Education and Support

Sisters regularly ask business questions, conduct market research, and share successes. The feedback, advice, and solutions are not just coming from the Global Sisters team and coaches but the Sisters themselves.

Sisters have run Tuesday Teaching events (Facebook Live tutorials for our online Sister community) on topics such as selling at markets and eco packaging. When Sisters step into the role of coaching, teaching, and supporting other Sisters, they are developing a voice, agency, leadership – and of course influence.


of the 450+ members of our online community have been actively engaged, providing peer learning, advice and support to each other in the last 12 months

In this period there have been a high level of engagement in the community:







Sister “Give Back”

Sisters are setting up social enterprises and for-profit businesses with an intentional “give back” strategy from the outset. Aroma Iftakhar is passionate about helping other women. Her business, AR Iftakhar Creative Design designs, produces and sells cards, invitations, posters and flyers. She also offers low bono design and training services to other sisters. A creative woman herself, Aroma wants to encourage other women to express their own creativity. “Women have amazing ideas that we can share,” she says. “My business is a service-based business that helps other sisters to express their creative needs and accomplish them.” Her business AK Iftakhar Creative Design is named after herself and her late father, who brought the family to Australia from Pakistan when Aroma was six months old. “My father always wanted me to start a business under my name,” she says. Aroma completed Sister School last year and she started AK Iftakhar Creative Design in August 2018.

Aroma’s values

Being part of Sister Tribe is important to Aroma because she shares its values: “Supporting each other and helping each other out is the way to a brighter future for women.” Aroma says she’s aiming for the skies with her business and wants to lead the way for other women. Aroma feels especially positive about being a woman standing on her own two feet: “It is important for me because I was often told that in order to succeed you need a man, and I want to prove that wrong,” she says. “I am actually walking on a path where I can achieve my goals.” Aroma also loves meeting other Sisters. “I get to meet amazing people and hear  their journey about their business life and goals.”

“Global Sisters has been very impactful when it came to both starting and progressing my business…I feel extremely supported by Global Sisters in securing self-employment. My business is on the pathway to breaking even, access to experts and networks will help me achieve my goals”.

Nikki Hind, Blind Grit: Inspirational Athleisure Wear

Nikki’s journey

Nikki Hind is a solo mum of two boys,  who lives in regional Victoria. She is legally blind and knows full well the barriers that exist for women to become economic participants in Australia. Particularly those living with a disability. After being declared legally blind following a stroke, she was encouraged to explore ideas of self-employment due to the lack of meaningful jobs available to someone living with a disability. She also wanted to be more available to her children and family, and those elements, combined with finding the Global Sisters program, gave her the curiosity and motivation to start her journey. When Nikki first came to Global Sisters she lacked confidence, was feeling isolated, and didn’t have support from those around her. She also had a lack of resources; both educationally and financially.

Nikki believes that Global Sisters has given her the courage to continue the business, connecting her with stockist/distributor and/or other business relationships, and further impacting on her life and business with “validation, belief and love”.

She feels supported by every aspect of “Global Sisters programs have helped me in combating isolation & connecting me with networks I may never have built over an entire lifetime!”

Nikki is now a very active member of our Sister community and encourages and motivates many other women. She has also won two scholarships for business mentoring since being with Global Sisters; ING Dreamstarter Scholarship and the Disability Leadership Institute Scholarship. Her business “Blind Grit: Inspirational Athleisure Wear created by those who conquer challenges, for those who are ready for one” is built entirely of & around those who live with disability & survive trauma. She now has two employees, who know what the reality is to live with a Disability and have also conquered many challenges.

The Ripple Effect

‘When You Empower a Woman, You Empower the Whole World’

The most important part of the story is the impact our Sisters have and will continue to have, in their families and communities. Within Global Sisters, we often talk about the ‘ripple effect’. This goes beyond the direct impact on Sisters – it is the effect of confidence, income, hope, and community to an isolated mother, now feeling empowered as a woman, a mum, and a business owner. Or the Sister creating a social enterprise that is confronting social issues in her community, employing others around her, and creating a safe and nurturing environment for other women suffering alone.

“I could see my wife had lost her way, but since her connections with Global Sisters it has opened up her desire to run a business to contribute and give to the community. I have seen Celeste have a great amount of support in a healthy safe environment”.

“Global Sisters is such a supportive group who is kind and generous In every way – She has made many connections within the sister tribe. It has been awesome because we can see forward and it has released financial pressure of the household and has lifted our spirits. It has been awesome because she can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and she can achieve her goals in life. I am so happy I can see my wife can live her passions and her dreams, and be a role model for her son”.

Paul Ianotta (Husband of Celeste, Hume Sister)

“At the time Mum was getting into Global Sisters I thought it was great there was a community to support creative people. Women face all kinds of barriers and mum was given the support to use her own agency. The way we value business and financial success can be quite superficial and it was great that someone like my mum got to try ideas she has in mind in a supported community.”

Soren (Son of Colleen)

Continual Learning and Evolution

The ripple effect is continual learning and evolution within Global Sisters as we begin to understand, define, measure and communicate those stories. Over the next 5 years, we are working with various partners to tell this story – whether it be through documentaries made by “StoryBoxes” or data and tools developed in collaboration with “Deloitte Access Economics”.

Some of the expected categories of broader impact we have defined, through preliminary data are listed here:

  • Place-based, community-wide change through a tipping point of women-led businesses that provide employment, raise aspirations of what is possible, meet local needs and regenerate local economies. The social good of more businesses that are good for people, planet and kind to animals needs to be quantified
  • Connection & belonging (addressing isolation), including improvements in mental health
  • Gender equality and empowerment: improving equality for women by creating a “place at the table” in the business ecosystem and opportunity for decent work
  • Freedom from violence and abuse, including a financial ability to leave and not return to DV situations
  • Preventing and breaking generational poverty, including reducing child poverty, reducing poverty stressors on parents, developmental and education improvements for their children. General health improvements for women and their children, reduction in food insecurity and improved nutrition and increases in sustainable housing access (especially preventing homelessness for women 50+)
  • Generational role modelling and raising aspirations- children, relatives and other women
  • Improved financial resilience including savings, insurance and sufficient income for family wellbeing.

“Zen Tea Lounge supports local migrant women, mainly from Vietnamese and Chinese backgrounds. They are dealing with the repercussions of Domestic Violence and, lack the knowledge about where to get support”.

Amy Nguyen, Zen Tea Lounge

Amy’s journey

Amy is a single mum of two children, and a business owner. She is passionate about mental health, self-belief, and job opportunities for women. That is the legacy she wants to leave. Amy embodies resilience – After escaping a communist government in Vietnam, when she was two years old, she grew up as a refugee in Western Sydney.

Amy is a naturally positive and passionate person, who cares for the women in her community. After suffering Post Natal Depression Amy found that practising tea meditation helped with her mental health. After initially launching online, she has now launched a store in Smithfield, Sydney.

“ Zen Tea Lounge supports local migrant women, mainly from Vietnamese and Chinese backgrounds.  They are dealing with the repercussions of Domestic Violence and, lack the  knowledge about where to get support. I began really understanding this issue after going to mothers groups myself, I kept seeing the same issues amongst these migrant women… Tea meditation really helped my mental health. Tea- it’s so much more than that. It’s tea meditation and empowerment and working around women and their needs. I started my business  2 years ago, after graduating from a sister school. First I started an online tea shop. I know what my vision for my business is and it’s so rewarding to build it, from gardening the ingredients for the food I serve at the tea house to the local migrant women I employ to help them get greater opportunities”

Zen Tea House employs local migrant women who have no commercial kitchen experience. They provide on the job training, with the intent of giving women new skills they can take with them to create further opportunities.  By employing migrant women, Amy is proud of the financial independence they gain through working in her business.

Sister Case Study: Cindy

A relationship break-up quickly escalated to an arrest and DVO for Cindy’s ex-partner, to be followed by 1800 breaches of the order and fleeing to a women’s refuge with her daughter, half a tank of gas and $12. The desire to help other children who are fleeing violence, and to prevent their re-traumatisation, inspired her social enterprise. Lil Bug Love provides comfort kits to children in crisis – and these have already been distributed to Police Stations and other service providers across Logan City Council area of Brisbane.

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We are all more powerful together. Global Sisters joins the dots to connect sisters to a community of like-minded women, educational opportunities and tailored support, business coaches, connection into local, national, and digital business ecosystems. From the outset of My Big Idea sisters report that they feel less isolated, and are connected to other women doing the journey with them. As a result of Global Sisters, we intend to see Sisters being active members within the Sister community, online and in place, attending coaching sessions, accessing funding and pro bono opportunities and feeling connected to industry professionals and the business ecosystem.

“Before launching my business I need training in cooking and how to manage the council to get registered. With the help of Global Sister, I was put in contact with Food Hub who helped me to get into the food hub program. And they had all the answers I needed to deal with Council, and training I needed”

Ekhlass, Ekhlass Sweets

Keeping our Sisters Connected

On average, our Sisters report having meaningful contact fortnightly with Global Sisters, either online or face to face. Just over a third have monthly contact (36%), followed by weekly (29%) then quarterly (23.29%).


Private Facebook Group Members with 1.4k monthly interactions


Dollar value in pro bono coaching received by our Sisters


Sisters Businesses featured on our Business Directory

Sister Case Study: Jo-Ann

Jo from Goanna Hut, a Sydney based aboriginal chef. She is the sole provider for her 3 children and husband. One of Jo’s children lives with a disability and her husband lives with a  chronic mental illness. Through an opportunity arising out of Global Sisters, Jo has just received a significant order from T2 ($90k+) to stock her native teas nationally. T2 will also promote her business to their multimillion tea club readership.

Jo’s casual employment working for the contract company providing Qantas meals is at great risk and she has already had two catering jobs for Goanna Hut each worth $2000 cancelled. NAIDOC Week, her annual primary catering income earner has also just been postponed.  To have these connections with T2, at such a time will be life-saving for her and her family. Global Sisters recently connected Jo to professional product photography along with specialised pro bono marketing support and support around developing a stunning Instagram page.

Download Jo-Ann's Story

Watch Jo-Ann's Sister Pitch Video

Global Sisters in the Hume Region

Three Years of Impact in the Hume Region

Hume is a fast-growing region in North Eastern Victoria, a scenic and cultural treasure. It is also one of the first regions Global Sisters began operating in, in 2016 and depicts the story of impact we have seen, and expect to see across regional and rural parts of Australia.

The Hume Region

As a region it is renowned for world-class wines and gourmet food, the region is woven together by the Goulburn, Broken, Ovens, Kind and Kiewa Rivers. Hume’s economy is underpinned by a range of traditional and new industries. It has a growing population, but like many rural and regional areas across Australia, it can be a challenging environment to live and raise a family.

It is a region with particular and confounding challenges for women; social disadvantage, a high percentage of lone households run by women, digital accessibility issues, family violence, and a shortage of services for older women. The population is ageing quickly, with insufficient services or opportunities for older people, particularly women. Family violence, by population has Benalla Rural City as the second-highest incident rate in Australia. Amidst the challenges the women in this region of Victoria face, Global Sisters also saw an immense opportunity; women were craving information and connection about self-employment, education and training alternatives, and there is a  growing ecosystem for entrepreneurship in the region.

The Global Sisters incubator commenced in July 2016 with the appointment of two staff who are based in the Hume region.  In October 2016 Global Sisters invited representatives from key support and change agencies in the region to attend briefings in Benalla, Wangaratta and Wodonga to jointly identify and explore. The first regional cluster kicked off in Wodonga area, where eight women made a commitment to come together for a series of sessions for the purpose of making and selling products whilst learning and reflecting on what it takes to run a business. In each location, agencies committed to supporting the Global Sisters microbusiness incubator by offering referrals, venues for training and access to industry experts where needed.


women reached through our programs


My Big Idea workshops in 3 Locations

2  Sister Schools held

1  Pop up market

Quarterly Business Meet Ups


My Big Idea workshops in 4 Locations

Sister Schools in Wodonga and Benalla

BMUs in three locations

Introduction of digital technology to increase access and participation

Pop-up market

Co-host events with Startup Shakeup


My Big Idea workshops in 5 locations

Sister Schools in 2 locations

Beginning of Launch VIC program with Aboriginal women

As a result of a unique partnership between Global Sisters and Launch VIC we have now delivered a unique program to aboriginal women in North East Victoria. Between 2019-20 we conducted 4 My Big Idea workshops, and 3 Sister Schools in Wodonga, Shepparton, Echuca and Barmah.

With the assistance of a local Indigenous advisory board and a cultural appropriate facilitation of the Global Sisters programs, we are seeing women found and grow business related to health and beauty, to agriculture and services. The Barmah Sister School was filled with aboriginal women from several different towns across North Central Victoria. The time together allowed these women the opportunity to reconnect, share concerns and encourage each other in these uncertain times.

Sister Impact


Women reached through Global Sisters Programs


My Big Idea participants


Sister School participants


Current active businesses


New businesses as a result of Global Sisters

Learning Forward

Learning Forward

Global Sisters has a deep commitment to giving our Sisters a continual voice in the program we offer them and iterating our offerings in real-time to ensure relevance and impact. Learning is foundational to our impact methodology and is a key tenant of our MEAL framework. As part of our annual MEAL process, we want to always be hearing from a range of stakeholders internally – our Sisters, team and partners, and also external. Global Sisters operates within and in partnership with a national ecosystem of start-up and business development support. We are creating a new market and developing a pipeline of new women-run businesses that connect into and graduate to mainstream business support. We work alongside public, private and local-based partners to ensure we are effective, supportive and ultimately collaborative.

Sister Chats

Sister chats conducted over the last two years were used as a tool to engage Sisters in questions around Global Sisters strategy and leadership. There is a specific point in the chat where we ask “If you were the CEO of Global Sisters, what would be your priorities”. The answers to this question along with ongoing rapid evaluation feedback (positive and negative) we analysed within both our impact framework and our strategic planning for 2020-2025.

Sister Voices

  • Peer mentoring and building on those connections
  • matching coaches to skills required by Sisters (bespoke)
  • continuing to harness the unique language and business approach of women,
  • investment into understanding local markets
  • higher volume of what’s been already offered in the GS methodology/approach
  • and scaling – both nationally or Internationally.

Program Pivots

Social impact learnings have informed key strategic and program pivots as Global Sisters has started to scale.

Digital Accessibility:

Our first iteration of Global Sisters from 2016-19 was primarily place-based and reliant on local partner pipelines. We had a structured approach, with a  menu of support options for women. What we have found through both internal evaluation and external comparative analysis are the need for a greater digital presence and an accessible digital program, that is able to reach all women across Australia, at any time of the day or night.

“I’m extremely proud to see the roll-out of our education programs in a new digital format as this means that EVERY woman can now access this vital support regardless of time and place”

Tara O’Connell, Head of Digital

Place and Face-to-Face:

We know that place-based, face-to-face connection matters, and in valuing the depth of impact that comes from local connection and support we have changed our organisational delivery model. We now deliver our face-to-face programs in Regional Hubs (or communities) with local Community Ambassadors supported by a Regional Cluster Manager and deeply embedded into the local business ecosystem.

Balancing Scale and Depth:

Global Sisters set out with a big vision and mission, to make business possible for all women across Australia. We have always had a commitment to “depth” of impact – creating real and lasting change – and are constantly balancing that with a desire to increase accessibility to large numbers of women in all areas of Australia. Our long term “roadmap” approach, where we invest in consistent connection and relationships is fundamental to retaining depth of impact.

“Women have a continued demand for face to face connections. As we strengthen our digital presence, it is equally important to nurture and grow our place-based operations to respond to Sisters and Partners’ needs.”

Laura Fontaine, Head of Programs


To achieve the scale of impact, our approach needs to be sustainable. Global Sisters has always aimed to ‘connect’ women with other like-minded women, coaches, and a business ecosystem. This means the way we work, is to connect Sisters into mainstream business development support from the earliest stages of our support. We see our role as an access point for women to find, understand and connect into a  range of resources – whether people, finance or other business opportunities.

Bespoke Coaching and Industry Specific Support:

After graduating from Incubate, and after about 12 months of accessing Global Sisters programs, Sisters will be able to connect into Industry Circles, and bespoke coaching to address identified blocks in their business’. This improvement to the coaching program was developed in response to feedback from Sisters such as Shannon’s (see below).

It would be great if there was a better matching of business coaches to the business needs. Where coaches are introduced with their specialisations and match based on suitability to Sister and Sister need. My first coach helped me a lot with branding, but couldn’t help me much with business set up, pricing, costing etc.”

Shannon, Melbourne Sister

Blended Model:

As we scale, we want to ensure we remain inclusive to all women; living rurally and remotely, with limited access to tech, women living with disabilities, or any manner of barriers. We have found that in looking at our data and feedback from Sisters, there are those who value the digital model and others who find the community and place-based learning experience more useful. We have and will continue to support aboriginal women meeting in traditional spaces, and busy working mums trying to juggle it all and do Sister School at their own pace, in the evenings or weekends.

“I did both face-to-face Sister School and also online – the online was more substantial but the personal touch of face-to-face has been better for me”

Jelena, Sydney Sister

Point of Difference:

Global Sisters is the only national program that focuses on the earliest stage of business ideation. The support at the pre-idea and idea stages take women from not even considering the business as an option to self-employment becoming a genuine possibility. Additionally, we create a pipeline of new businesses to mainstream providers in the ecosystem. We do not see other business support providers as competitors, but networks and support for our Sisters to access and eventually graduate to. We partner nationally and locally in order to get Sisters “a place at the table” in the business community and the best possible business growth support.

Sister Case Study: Kirsty

Sydney-based mum of five and Founder/CEO of Sweet CinnaBun, Kirsty McLarry, loves to bake and loves caring for her children. Kirsty wants to be there for her kids and having a small tribe of boys, with another one on the way, means a typical mainstream job will not afford her the flexibility that she needs. Global Sisters met Kirsty at a Sister School in Miller in SW Sydney when her business was running out of her kitchen and demand was starting to outstrip her capacity to supply. She wanted to grow the business to achieve her bigger vision of becoming a truly flexible and supportive employer of local mums.

Download Kirsty's Story

Watch Kirsty's Sister Pitch Video

Sister Case Study: Kagi

At the age of two Kagi fled South Sudan to Kenya, where she lived in a refugee camp until arriving in Australia with her three sisters on a refugee visa in 2014. She left her mother, two brothers and two sisters behind in Kenya. Feeling lost on arrival in Australia, Kagi used her art as a way of connecting with her culture and addressing the exclusion and isolation new arrivals often experience. She now sells her art and runs ‘paint and sip’ art workshops through Nubia Designs. She is a passionate advocate of creating a welcoming experience for refugees, and has built this into her business, where paying customers subsidise the participation of refugees.

Download Kagi's Story

Watch Kagi's Sister Pitch Video

Sister Case Study: Lina

After moving to Australia 4 years ago from Jordan, Lina was unable to get her qualifications in IT recognised or access employment in her field. One-third of all recent migrants report difficulty in getting jobs due to factors such as lack of local Australian experience. Following the birth of her daughter, Lina needed flexible employment and decided to use her skills to create her own business that would develop kids STEAM interest and capabilities. Lina founded Robofun, an educational academy to teach kids robotics and coding. Robofun is a mix of “Make, Code, and Play”. 

Download Lina's Story

Watch Lina's Sister Pitch Video

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Mandy Richards, CEO
Heather Thomson, COO
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