Hawanatu Bangura, 25, from Sierra Leone, is a member of the Advisory Circle for Australian micro
“I am a refugee from the civil war in Sierra Leone. I was 13 when my family migrated to Australia in 2002.
As a child, I kept hearing the limitations of being a woman – I am one of three girls in my family, and being the youngest I sensed disappointment from some relatives that I was not a boy; that my parents don’t have a son to carry the family name and responsibilities. I questioned myself for being female but as I grew up my mentality changed; I realised women are equally capable of doing anything in life.
No woman should begin her life feeling inadequate. It has been my dream to empower women and girls, to improve their wellbeing and self-esteem, and assist them to become active participants in society. I have also pondered the big question of how to reduce poverty around the world, and I was drawn to the idea of microfinance because it helps people have sustainable self-employment and income.
Global Sisters encapsulate this dream, and their values align with my vision. My role on the Advisory Circle is focused on the story-telling aspect of Global Sisters. Recognising the resilience, courage and enterprise of the women we work with is very rewarding.
The Founder of Global Sisters, Mandy Richards, works to support micro and social enterprises in Australia [which are run by refugee and migrant women]. Mandy saw the entrepreneurs coming up against the same barriers and challenges. After identifying the needs of women who are financially excluded and marginalised in Australia, she wanted to create an end-to-end solution to support women who wish to exit welfare-reliance and achieve sustainable self-employment.
Our Project Inspire concept is part of our broader plan to scale our model. We want to accelerate impact, and support women so they can move more quickly from an idea to a sustainable business. Rather than provide one solution, we want to provide an entire suite of services and support. We want to work smart and use technology to accelerate impact wherever possible.
I have seen the injustice of women being economically disempowered, in both my birth country of Sierra Leone and in Australia. Access to capital, financial exclusion and capability, and in Australia, welfare dependence, are all factors that are holding women back.
By empowering women financially, telling their stories of resilience, and connecting women so they can help one another, we are breaking the cycle of poverty and giving women the opportunity to claim back their right to provide for their family and fully participate in the economy. This not only transforms their lives but has the amazing flow-on effect of benefiting their families, communities and ultimately the entire country.”