Money For Jam Graduation

February 20, 2019


December saw the completion of Per Capita’s flagship social innovation project Money For Jam. Generously funded by Equity Trustees and Gandel Philanthropy, with further support from Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Melbourne Women’s Fund and Reichstein Foundation, Money For Jam engaged with more than 40 older women to empower them to earn through microenterprise.

Working with Women’s Housing Ltd, Fitted for Work and En Masse, we delivered both class-based learning and a smartphone app program, supporting women to learn small business skills and tools to grow their confidence, using positive psychology, mentoring and peer support networks.

Evaluation from Brotherhood of St Laurance shows 54% of women who completed the year-long program had either started a microenterprise, or are currently developing a microenterprise. Ideas for businesses reflect the diverse skills and interests of older women. They range from organic cleaning products, to a home tutoring service for school-age children, and even trauma therapy.

The program is designed to help women at different stages of business knowhow and the pilot attracted interest from across Australia, although the delivery was Melbourne-focused. MFJ has a dual emphasis on increasing older women’s earning capacity but also their psychological wellbeing. Co-designed with older women, the MFJ model seeks to address low self-esteem and business confidence in older women, as well as the significant financial disadvantage many older women face. As one participant explains:

[Some people] are really, really keen and want to change their life and want to make something different [but] I’ve got bigger things to think about than that, like how am I going to put food on my table. It’s such a stressful existence. You’re just constantly worried. Your stomach’s in knots. You can’t sleep, you can’t think straight because you’re so worried about how am I going to survive tomorrow?”

The Brotherhood of St Laurence evaluation recorded over half of the participants involved the pilot were in receipt of disability support pension, with a number of other on welfare payments or casualised, insecure employment.

While it was too early to see significant improvements in income for women, BSL recorded substantial improvements in participants’ psychological wellbeing, stating that MFJ:

“…appeared to be successful in enhancing participants’ self-confidence, social participation and engagement, fostering empowerment and providing a sense of direction and hope.”

This personal impact is shown in some of the comments/stories participants sent to Per Capita during the pilot:

“In 2012 I had my first shipment of the software and goods needed for me to start printing words onto ribbon – my idea for a small business. I tried for days to get the software up and running but I am so illiterate when it comes to computers.  Feeling stupid, I packed it all away. 

Come 2017 and I am homeless, but I had made sure the box stayed in storage while I had nowhere… When Money For Jam happened, the printer came out of storage and somehow I was able to use the thing (finally)! It made me think about lost opportunities – when we don’t take chances, when we are afraid to try.I will never know what opportunities I have lost, but there is no point in dwelling on it only growing. And I certainly have. I am so glad and grateful I have been given the chance to participate in Money For Jam.” 

“And I so want to thank you and all the MFJ crew for helping me take my business seriously and to commit to it. I feel so much better in myself and very clear now about where I’m headed and what I have to do. While I haven’t nailed it all yet at least there’s a map! And Support!!! My friends have noticed the difference the program has made to my business and my approach to the business. And how magnificent the module on branding is. I didn’t even understand that branding is what I’ve been trying so hard to do over the last couple of weeks. Your module is so good that I wrote most of my web text on the tram on the way home! Thank you MFJ!!!”

With support from the Reichstein Foundation, participants in the program made their own digital story about Money For Jam: you can see their short video above. Into the future, Per Capita hopes to progress the suggestion of one of our younger participants, to build a subscriber/member-based Money For Jam. Continuing our smartphone app with En Masse and in partnership with Council of Single Mothers and their Children, we hope to scale Money For Jam into a successful membership-based model, supporting single mothers in additional to older women.  

If you’d like more information, or to get involved, contact!