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Credit: Global Sisters

Sisterhood in action: Global Sisters Marketplace delivers hope to Aussie microbusinesses

A concept with heart, soul, and lofty aspirations, Global Sisters Marketplace is Australia’s first not-for-profit online marketplace dedicated to supporting women achieve financial independence. 

The e-commerce platform was developed in just twelve weeks late in 2020, giving over 100 female microbusiness owners an online presence in time for Christmas.

The marketplace is free to join, has no set-up fee and only a small transaction commission, used to support and enable other businesses owned by women. 

Sisters receive all the tools they need to set up an online presence, including access to a fully functioning online shop, onboarding and set-up support, inventory management, product pages, multiple payment and shipping options. 

Through the marketplace, women can access expert business education, marketing and promotional support as well as a nation-wide community of like-minded women who are sharing experiences and overcoming similar challenges.

Businesses can also obtain exposure through the #BackHerBrilliance digital marketing campaign; exposure that microbusinesses may find challenging to generate on their own.

Distinctive products, inspiring stories

Over 150 women are currently selling through the Marketplace with more joining every day. Over 1,730 Australian products are available across 11 categories. The eco-conscious products are produced in small batches using ethically sourced ingredients, natural and raw fibres and materials with minimal processing.

Behind each business is a story.

Aboriginal chef and owner of Goanna Hut, Jo-Ann Wolles, is the sole provider for her three children, one of whom lives with a disability. When Covid-19 hit, Jo’s employment with the contract company providing Qantas meals was terminated, and her catering jobs for Goanna Hut were cancelled. Through an opportunity arising out of Global Sisters, Jo-Ann received a significant order (over $90,000) from T2 to stock her native teas nationally. The teas are now available for purchase on the Global Sisters Marketplace. 

Lila Bate, Founder of bVitra, found herself in no-man’s land; middle-aged and unable to break back into the workforce. Lila was in her 50s. She hadn’t worked for 12 years while caring for her children, and her knowledge and skills were out-dated. Lila’s business idea came after her daughters were given some bath bombs that stained their skin and caused skin irritation. Shocked by the ingredients in most bath bombs, she couldn’t find alternatives on the supermarket shelves. Lila sourced a local manufacturer and developed some healthy bath bombs. It grew, and Lila now manufactures wellness products for arthritis and muscle pain. 

Partners in hope

The Marketplace is the result of the passion of two organisations committed to removing the challenges women who are unemployed or underemployed often face when running a microbusiness: challenges resulting from structural and systemic barriers.

Global Sisters is an ecosystem of support for female entrepreneurs enabling access to its network, tools and resources via a place-based program in Regional Hubs and a digital, remote access program for Air Sisters.  The organisation supports women from diverse backgrounds and of all ages, from urban and rural regions across Australia.

The marketplace was built by Marketplacer, the world’s leading global marketplace software provider. 

“Some of the biggest barriers for women trying to launch their own business are lack of confidence, time, business acumen and access to resources,” says Mandy Richards, Founder and CEO of Global Sisters. “Marketplacer really understood our brief, working with us to build a platform that does not require any special skills or tech knowledge, removing some of the barriers and making it easier for women to take the next step on their business journey.” 

“Our most recent Impact Report 2020 tells us that 70 per cent of women were at the earliest stage of business ideation when they joined Global Sisters and that 60 per cent of our community were receiving Government income or support. An online marketplace allows us to double down on our impact of enabling business for women, broadening access for new Sisters joining via the marketplace to financial resilience and also showcasing to the millions of buyers around the world the incredible creativity, entrepreneurship and possibility that Australian women possess,” adds Mandy.

The time is right

COVID-19 has had a profound effect on female unemployment and female-led microbusinesses.

It is estimated that women make up 53 per cent of directly affected industries and 65 per cent of secondary industries impacted by the pandemic. Businesses with fewer than four team members are also least likely to receive any government support. 

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Clare Loewenthal

Clare Loewenthal

Clare is an author, business commentator and passionate contributor to Dynamic Business. She was the Founder and Publisher of Dynamic Small Business magazine, which became Australia’s largest small business publication.

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