Mary came to Australia 4 years ago and spent the first half of that time isolated at home, experiencing a deep sorrow for being so far from her children still in Sri Lanka. Days would go by and to Mary a Monday was no different to a Friday, and although Australia was a safe new country, the feeling of not belonging was too strong. The language barrier stopped her from making friends and friends was exactly what Mary needed. Then one day, a psychologist recommended her to come to SisterWorks and with hesitation, she agreed.
It’s been two years since her first time here and now and if you ask Mary, she will say SisterWorks is her “happy place”. She joined our Kitchen Program, where she got her certificate in food handling and discovered a family of friends who shared her love for cooking. This team of women are the cooks behind our range of packaged food and now Mary has a new purpose seeing herself as an entrepreneur doing business in Australia.
Mary works with us as business partners, and so, our mission is still to support women like her to find their happily and financially independent ever after in Australia.
But how are we getting to accomplish our mission? As we grow as an organisation there are currently two financial streams sustaining us. One is the charity stream and the other is our business as social enterprise. The first one requires an intensive exercise seeking for donations and grants, and although we have been very lucky to have many supporters, we have also realised that our nature is not 100% there. We are independent women (or dreaming about independence), we want to stay out of welfare and make our own money.
SisterWorks represents an independent woman, and she wants to sell her product range to be sustainable and self-sufficient.
This is where the Social Enterprise becomes so important to us. We recently focused on improving and developing our range of products under the SisterWorks brand to sell them to wholesale partners. As a result, one of our first major wholesale partners is Ritchies IGA (Ritchies IGA Mount Eliza, Ritchies Dromana, IGA Rowville, and Ritchies Mt Waverley), where our packaged food and a selection of reusable products are being sold (some have already sold out).
Suddenly, our dreams are not illusions anymore, we are actually making this happen and this is the path we want to follow planning our development to reach a guaranteed level of profit and sales.
In the end, we are the perfect example for Mary and women who are migrants, asylum seekers or refugees, who are dreaming of becoming entrepreneurs themselves, because as an organisation, SisterWorks itself is entrepreneurial – looking for new ways to build a sustainable future, to help more women reach their potential. We all share the challenges of scaling up our production, improving our business skills and being strategic with our decision making to achieve our vision.
Support our venture, knowing that 50% of all profits go straight to an entrepreneur’s pocket and the rest is re-invested in the organisation to continue its growth.