Stepping up for business: insights from a pilot program for migrant and refugee women
A micro-enterprise program for women from refugee, migrant and asylum-seeking backgrounds shows why it is important to tailor financial literacy and business training to participants’ contexts and to support multiple pathways to economic security.
At a glance
Our study of Stepping Stones to Small Business found that:
- financial literacy training can positively inform money management choices but information alone does not guarantee financial wellbeing
- personal experiences, social relationships, cultural norms and values shaped how the women viewed money
- the women preferred practical and interactive business training activities to cater for different learning styles
- for those who are locked out of mainstream employment, micro-enterprise can generate some income to help make ends meet, but the road to business viability is rocky
- women at different stages of business development have different mentoring needs
- well-defined partnerships offer mutual benefits
- a strengths-based gender- and culturally responsive approach suited women.
Stepping Stones is a Brotherhood of St. Laurence micro-enterprise program developed in 2011 for women from refugee, migrant and asylum-seeking backgrounds living in Melbourne. It aims to help women achieve financial wellbeing by increasing their knowledge of starting a business, building skills to support micro-enterprise development and expanding their social and support networks.
In 2017, funding was received from Ecstra Foundation to pilot a new model, Stepping Stones to Small Business. Delivered by a partnership comprising Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Now to Launch and BSL Youth Programs, this new model had a sharper focus on enhancing participants’ financial literacy. It comprised four components:
- Empowerment Pathways training to develop personal and business goals
- MoneyMinded training to increase financial literacy skills
- small business training to enhance related expertise
- post-program support to connect each participant to a suitable mentor, and to facilitate access to local markets, information sessions and business-related workshops.
Last updated on 14 January 2021
Progress report about Stepping Stones, a micro-enterprise program for refugee and disadvantaged migrant women.