Grant Opportunity

SisterWorks Incorporated
393 Swan Street
Richmond, VIC, 3121

Hello Sister – a Mobile Strategy to Deliver SisterWorks Culinary Training Programs to Isolated Migrant/Refugee Women in Regional Victoria and Melbourne. -

SisterWorks is a not-for-profit social enterprise. Our mission is to support women who are migrants, asylum seekers or refugees to become financially independent and happily settled in Australia. While they learn how to work in Australia, through making artisan products, they are contributing to the colour, diversity and growth of our great nation.

Our Vision: an Australia where all migrant women are given the opportunities to become economically empowered.

SisterWorks works in partnership with the most vulnerable and marginalised migrant women living in Melbourne (and beyond, in the near future) who are variously:
• Mothers and family carers
• Socially isolated
• Illiterate in their own language as well as English
• Unfamiliar with western culture and lacking opportunities to learn
• Have little to no work experience.
• Victims of domestic and social violence
• Suffer from depression
• Lacking not just confidence with English but a sense of identity in their new country.

SisterWorks’ model emphasizes ‘learning by doing’ – learning how to work and create business in the Australia context, by working and doing business together in a supportive network.
SisterWorks provides the workspaces and learning centres designed to help migrant and refugee women overcome significant social and employment challenges. We call these places the SisterWorks Home, somewhere that gives Sisters purpose and a place to socialise. Without such places to come to, these women often become isolated. We bring them together to learn, to share, to support and to grow. Our key activity areas include:

– A Design Lab. Here we teach our Sister-Entrepreneurs new skills with which to build a business – sewing, crafting, and making homewares. We also offer opportunities to teach, and to develop skills as instructors.
– A Cooking Lab. Here we scale up traditional recipes for commercial production. Guided by a professional chef, our kitchen programs offer training and employment.
The Design and Cooking Labs also offer a chance to socialise and to practise English skills. Our Labs in Richmond, currently support 50-80 Entrepreneurs per year with 50% of gross sales profit going to the women who make these products. This encourages them to work towards their financial independence.
– The retail shops in Richmond and South Yarra, as well as pop-up shops that we organise in business and organisational premises, provide outlets for the Entrepreneurs to sell their products. These sales channels provide opportunities to learn about customer service and develop retail skills.

  • Total Requested Amount
  • Total Raised From Donors
  • Remaining Goal

Project Details

Postcode where activity will take place: 3175

Start Date: 03/01/2019

End Date: 08/01/2020

Target Population:

  • Work status and occupations > Unemployed people
  • Gender groups > Women/girls

Field of Interest:

  • Community and economic development > Economic development
  • Community and economic development > Community development

Project Summary:

Presently, we can only provide Design and Cooking Labs in Richmond, a location many migrant and refugee women cannot easily access. Through the Hello Sister project the plan is to take SisterWorks on the road in order to reach more women, thereby achieving our goal of 400 Entrepreneurs who are given a pathway to employment by 2020. In order for SisterWorks to provide the benefits of our model to more vulnerable communities, we are exploring partnerships with community-based organisations working with refugee/migrant women in specific locations.

The funds we request in this application will support running the beginning of the Hello Sister project in the Dandenong area, starting with two series of culinary training programs for 30 refugee/migrant women. For this initiative, SisterWorks is partnering with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) and the City of Greater Dandenong. This program is a deployment of the SisterWorks Culinary Training model that has been proven to work, repeated and is ongoing. Our Culinary Training program will be held in a commercial kitchen. We are hoping the City of Greater Dandenong can provide 'In-Kind' venue commercial kitchen in a location accessible by participants.

A professional chef will oversee the training. The chef will guide each participant in safety conduct, the do and don'ts in the commercial kitchen. One culinary series comprises of 8 sessions, i.e. one 6-8 hours session per week over 8 weeks. Twelve to fifteen participants will be allocated per 8-week series. These two series will be delivered between March and October 2019. Apart from the standard culinary training, participants will have the opportunity in one of the sessions to showcase and prepare their chosen food. The chef will provide guidance in recipe development and improvement. This is particularly useful for the women who would like to pursue their own food business.

Though not mandatory, the graduating women will have the opportunity to participate in the actual production of SisterWorks Food Label products. The batch produced will be sold through SisterWorks retail channels and 50% of sales revenue, after cost, will be returned to the participants. SisterWorks has two retail shops in Richmond and South Yarra, an online shop, as well as pop-up shops and markets, wholesale and corporate channels to market the products.

SisterWorks will provide the appropriate clothing, equipment and ingredients.
SisterWorks also has public liability insurance that covers this exercise.
Participants who completed the program will receive a Food Handling Certificate.

Project Outcomes:

SisterWorks believes that 'Work Empowers Women'. SisterWorks has developed its own model that identifies five levels of support through their journey to financial independence.

Our model initially identifies newly arrived women who are mothers and home-carers, and isolated (Level 1); women already settled, who are facing long-term unemployment (Level 2); women with potential products or business ideas (Level 3); women with good products/business ideas but lacking selling skills (Level 4); and women with a saleable product or service who need business development support (Level 5).

Economic indicators of our success are easy to follow by the number of women invoicing us, and the amount they receive. Other indicators connected with our model are: the number of women starting their own business, getting meaningful employment, or initiating study in something other than English.

Other qualitative success factors can be followed through the stories of the women; stories that convey how SisterWorks creates a sense of community and social inclusion for migrant women.
This project is about giving skills, options and opportunities to the women. Multiple outcomes are expected from this project:
- Women who will pursue their food business
- Opening possibilities to pursue employment
- Opening possibilities to join SisterWorks' Food production team. (SisterWorks Food Production is in Richmond)
With any of the above, the women are expected to generate income and ultimately working toward financial independence.

How will we know that we have reached our goal?
The following are the statistics we will be tracking, measured against the number presented in this proposal:
- The number of graduating participants
- The number of participants joining the Production run
- Together with ASRC, we will be in regular contact with the participants in following the news and progress
Soft measures; feedback from participants and the after story will also be captured and reported.

Budget Details

Total Budget: $20,000


Income item Price ($)
City of Greater Dandenong (Part of the chef fees) 2500
Australian Communities 15000
Individual donations 2500


Expense item Price ($)
Professional Chef (Two series x 8 sessions x 8 hrs) 7040
Kitchen Coordinator (Two series x 8 sessions x 8 hrs) 3200
Raw Materials & Ingredients for two series 3200
Equipments & Attires (15 set for 15 participants/program, can be re-used) 2550
Other Expenses (transportation, storage tubs, cleaning supplies, gloves, etc) 1610
Food Handling Certifi cations for all participants 2040

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