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Meaningful gifts to support Global Sisters

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Many of us want to avoid a Christmas where we spend mindlessly on gifts which cost our environment, have little meaning and are forgotten shortly after they are opened.

But there’s a better way. Australia’s first non-for-profit online marketplace dedicated to supporting women to achieve financial independence is now live—just in time for Christmas 2020.

Global Sisters Marketplace sources ethical and unique gifts from the heart, and the majority are handmade by Australian female entrepreneurs—four of whom are from Canberra.

Prices range from just $1.37 to plant a tree in a bushfire affected area, to $990 for an artwork by Fiona Adams, with plenty of affordable and luxury items in between across the categories of health, beauty and wellness; home and lifestyle; clothing, accessories and footwear; food and drink; and products for babies and kids.

When 2020 has seen the dramatic COVID impact of a ‘Pink Recession’—where women have been affected by the financial crisis—a number have been supported by the Global Sisters’ comprehensive, long-term business program and they are now provided with an e-commerce platform via the Global Sisters Marketplace.

Supported by the Snow Foundation, Global Sisters represents four creative Canberra women who are determined to see their businesses succeed.

Ekhlass wants to be known for her sweets.

Ekhlass (whose name means ‘loyalty’) is passionate about cooking different types of food, but wants to be known for her delicious baking. “I learnt how to make sweets from a very young age in my country,” she says.

Ekhlass Sweets will financially help her immediate family in Australia and eventually help her extended family in Sudan. Ekhlass makes crunchy shortbread, kahk, ghorayebah, nashader and of course the famous baklava which you can buy from the Marketplace.

Ekhlass came to Australia in 2009 and lives with her husband and three children. Seeing other women in Global Sisters achieving their goals encouraged Ekhlass to take the leap establishing her own business. “I ask myself–‘Why not me?’ I can do the same, like others did.”

Maureen from The Gut Shoppe.

Maureen Regan describes her business, The Gut Shoppe, as a wellbeing/food business. She sells hot soups, Kombucha and other products at the Northside and Southside farmers’ markets in Canberra.

“I believe my business is a way for me to contribute and is an expression of my deeply held values. I hope it can generate a good income for myself so I can have some time off and train assistants. I also feel that gut health is missing for a lot of people and I want to offer good quality health products and workshops in which I can share and demonstrate the power of food to heal.”

Maureen’s strong belief in the importance of natural healing through food drives her to share her knowledge and products as widely as she can and she says Global Sisters offers her company and education.

“I love being in the company of other women. Being part of a group that’s committed to business development is great, as it can get quite lonely.”

Kadijatu Sesay (feature image) started her business, Mama and Pikin, in 2019 because she wanted to share her passion for the cuisine of her homeland, Sierra Leone and Conakry, Guinea where she grew up—especially its famous sesame-based sweets.

The name of her business, Mama and Pikin, celebrates Kadi’s mum as well as honouring their story of surviving as refugees before coming to Australia in 2010. Kadi was a teenager when she arrived and has since learnt English (she already speaks four other languages), and also started business studies.

Back in West Africa, Kadi and her mum would walk up to 35 km a day to sell her products. Now she makes it from home and with the support of her mum she sells her sweets at the Food Coop Shop and Café and other cafes around Canberra.

As well as expanding to include sweets from other West African countries, and to sell at markets and festivals, Kadi plans to eventually open her own restaurant.

“I love cooking and I would like people to taste flavours from my background,” she says.

For Kadi, the program means being together, sharing ideas and learning from one another. “As women, we love to support each other.”

Suzie provides professional garden maintenance.

Suzie Fletcher became interested in plants at the age of 12, and by the time she was 19 she was employed as a Horticultural apprentice.

Prior to children, she owned and operated her own landscaping/gardening business. Continuing to follow her passion working with plants, Suzie has decided to recommence a gardening business again.

Suzie delivers a professional garden maintenance service to people in the Canberra region. She has 28 years of experience in the Horticultural industry and provides a quality service with a female touch. Suzie’s extensive career has seen her work in some of Canberra’s most iconic places of interest including the Australian National Botanic Gardens, The National Arboretum, The Lodge, Government House, The Parliamentary Triangle and a number of private gardens sometimes opened to the public.

She understands that not everyone has the time or sometimes the ability to look after a garden and she loves helping others and providing tips and guidance. Suzie joined Global Sisters in 2018 and graduated in October.

“Sister School has given me grounding, support, and a feeling of knowing that I’m not the only one in this boat rowing.”

As the business grows, Suzie wants to create employment opportunities for middle-aged women who may have difficulty finding work.

You can learn more about how to make a meaningful Christmas purchase through Global Sisters here.

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