Stepping Stones To Small Business is a program run by the Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL), tailored to women from refugee and migrant and asylum seeking backgrounds and uses a strengths-based, capabilities approach to build upon each participant’s strengths and life experiences. The program aims to increase economic participation and financial wellbeing through education, mentoring and support. Women who participate in Stepping Stones work towards setting up a small business or take pathways to education and employment. BSL has identified that the following groups of women have limited access to training and support to enable them to participate economically, and in particular set up a small business:
• women with limited English language skills, who typically have limited access to traditional economic pathways
• women living in Australia on family visas and certain asylum seeker visas
• women who have not acquired a minimum level of digital literacy
BSL is seeking philanthropic funds to create a two-year pilot program to provide pathways for women with limited English language skills to set up shared businesses through which they can support each other while taking steps towards greater economic independence. We will adapt the Stepping Stones program training materials and provide bi-lingual/-cultural facilitators to make the program more inclusive and accessible.