Thursday, August 25, 2016



There are some incredibly inspirational people in the world. Some of these people have made their names and have become extremely famous. Others are very much unsung heroes - they are doing amazing things but, because of their anonymity to date, their efforts are generally going without being noticed, yet they are probably doing just as much good, if not more, than the 'celebrities' and they really do deserve to be noticed and applauded. 

It gives me very great pleasure to welcome and introduce an amazing entrepreneur from this latter group - the hugely inspirational Mandy Richards, founder and CEO of the non-profit group Global Sisters. A country girl from Armidale, Mandy spent some of her formative years moving from nation to nation - as she says - 'all over the place' - including Indonesia where she attended primary school. As an adult, she lived in New Zealand and also worked in Botswana, Ethiopia and the USA. Over the 20 years prior to forming Global Sisters, Mandy has worked in both the commercial and non-profit sectors, while also studying and raising her four year old son! Being as fiercely passionate about human rights and the eradication of poverty as well as empowering women (all of which are so badly needed the world over) as she is, Mandy saw a unique niche, particularly relating to the empowerment of women - and decided to make it her mission to do something about it.

Jennifer from Burma

Enter Global Sisters, which Mandy founded in 2014 and seems to be going from strength to strength. She also has an amazing team working with her - all supposedly part-time and based at home, including Mandy herself. And they are also scattered all over the place, although they do have office space, provided by Hub Australia. 

Mbalu - from Sierra Leone

There is also a full board of 10 members, as well as 10 ambassadors and Global Sisters has a number of supporting partners, including the DSS - Department of Social Services, Citi Foundation, MYER Stores Community Fund, The Snow Foundation and the WeirAnderson Foundation.

Mandy is inspired by the very women that Global Sisters helps. A lot of her feelings and passions are borne from her own mother's life.

Pakao from Burma, and Samorn (business coach from Laos originally)

Global Sisters is unique - it's an Australian first. One of their aims is to connect women with the tools and knowledge needed to begin and grow businesses successfully. As Mandy says, financial independence for one woman can positively impact her entire community forever, adding that while the group is called 'sisters', they are not blood relations but are sisters through resilience, determination and compassion. Global Sisters provides women unable to access mainstream employment with an alternative means of income generation. By becoming business owners they can create a future of financial independence and standing tall. These sisters are provided with the tools, the networks, the knowledge and the resources to establish and grow their businesses - to use their talents. 

Cleonie, an Aboriginal jewellery creator selling at the recent Citi Market Day

Each sister is unique and different and they each have their own journey - there are four essential facets that the Global Sisters use to enable this:

*  Business know-how: Sister School (a real life business program) as well as business coaching;
*  Marketing and sales: includes sales channels such as our online shop;
* Micro-finance: affordable, accessible and safe micro-loans for the women to kick-start their businesses;
*  Technology: we are planning to provide affordable access to smart phones in the future.

Global Sisters also offers a 'sister scholarship' - effectively a year's support for the recipient to start and run her business successfully. Here's a way for the public to become involved - you can invest in a scholarship and then help that particular sister to stand tall and proud.

There are other ways for the public to become involved as well. A simple monetary contribution is always welcome. Or you can provide your expertise - they are always on the lookout for many different professionals. Then there's the 'Sister Circle' - this is a great reason to get a group of friends together for breaky, lunch, dinner or just a cuppa. You get the chance to look at some amazing handmade products as well as hearing the stories behind them.You simply organise your friends for whatever you like, at your home or office, or wherever you choose and the Global Sisters will do the rest:
*  They will organise a showcase set of their most popular products;
*  They will also organise for you to hear the stories mentioned above;
*  They will provide information and forms to order online.
You could also suggest that your friends and you might invest in a scholarship together and/or contribute. Remembering all the time that donations over $2.00 are tax deductible. To organise this and see further information, here's the link.

And/or you could refer a business. Here's the link - go for it! Or - if you are interested in actually coaching a sister, here's your opportunity.

Their products that these amazing sisters sell are just superb and all completely handmade. They include a sweet stuffed red owl as well as a fox, different sorts of cushions and the most beautiful scarves. You can't go wrong.

And the future for Global Sisters? Mandy mentions that the group is about six months into a three year strategic plan. 'We're bedding down and refining our programs with the longer term goal of scaling and becoming self sustainable'.

This amazing lady spends most spare time with her four year old, Max. She is very much a water baby and loves the outdoors. She also enjoys travelling and is an animal lover. And of course, simply hanging out with friends and family - what else? 

This is a woman who, to me, is inspiration personified, along with her team and all these wonderful sisters
Tigi and Mandy

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