Enabling women over 50 at risk of poverty to create financial wellbeing through micro-enterprise
One third of older women in Australia live in permanent income poverty. This is a damning statistic for one of the richest countries in the world. Older women are particularly vulnerable financially for a variety of social and structural reasons, including a lack of appropriate employment services, pervasive age and gender discrimination, family breakdown and interrupted careers due to child-raising and other caring responsibilities.
Although microenterprise is often promoted as an option for income generation for the long-term unemployed, through the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) for example, many older women do not identify with what they see as the masculine world and language of business. Yet their life experience demonstrates resilience and resourcefulness that may translate well into small business ownership with the right amount and type of guidance.
Money For Jam is an innovative pilot project supporting 50+ women at risk of income poverty. Co-designed with older women experiencing disadvantage and homelessness, Money For Jam responds to entrenched gender disadvantage by helping women identify the skills and the confidence to earn extra income through microenterprise.
With the generous support of Gandel Philanthropy and Equity Trustees, Per Capita has teamed with Fitted For Work, Women’s Housing Ltd and Women’s Property Initiatives to deliver an 18-month learning and mentoring program which uses feminised language and peer networking ato challenge identified barriers for women in traditional models of business.
This pilot project includes a class-based program which will commence in October 2017, and a Money For Jam mobile phone app, through which we hope to engage older women accessing housing services — a group identified as being likely to own a mobile phone, despite lacking secure accommodation. Teamed with regular group ‘jam sessions’ and individual mentoring, the Money For Jam model aims to support some of Melbourne’s most disadvantaged older women to move forward from current challenges towards a place of increased financial and emotional wellbeing.
With additional support from Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Reichstein Foundation and Melbourne Women’s Fund, we will measure and evaluate financial and wellbeing outcomes for individual participants and the implications these may have for Money For Jam’s potential to have a broader social impact.