Tag Archive: Philanthropy

  1. So ashamed


    Somaly and Em


    I’ve just returned from a screening of Half The Sky, a documentary about the oppression, and subsequent empowerment of women and girls around the globe. It was produced off the back of a book of the same name by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. I read this book years ago and it deeply impacted me. Many of the actions and projects I’ve birthed since then were inspired by that book, and a want – no, a deep need – in me to do more than what we’re all doing here, now.

    The emotions the documentary stirred in me and my team (we all went to see the film together) are very raw this week, because it features Somaly Mam, (left) an extraordinary woman who was our guest speaker at Business Chicks in Sydney just last Friday. Somaly was trafficked into sex slavery in Cambodia at the age of 11 or 12 (she doesn’t know how old she was exactly because she’s never known her birth date or her real family). Somaly is a living, breathing example of a courageous woman who has had every wrong card dealt to her, but she’s overcome this with incredible kindness, love and forgiveness.

    Somaly has devoted her life to rescuing young girls from brothels, and providing them with shelter at one of her centres. She’s gifted them with education, healthcare, and above all, love. She trains these young survivors to become a voice and they travel around educating men on safe sex and encouraging them not to frequent brothels. It’s an incredible result from a tragic situation – these girls are the faces of the world’s second largest crime and multi-billion dollar industry – human trafficking.

    As I sat watching this documentary, I was overwhelmed with sadness – particularly the part where they showed a little three year old girl who’d been raped and subsequently sold by her mother to a brothel (I have two daughters – one is three and the other is 16 months) but the emotion I was more overwhelmed with was shame. Shame at the thoughts and questions that fill my head each day by choosing to live the life we all do here, now – I’m ashamed that I worry about which private school my girls will go to; I’m embarrassed by the food my daughters leave on their plate each night or worse, throw on the floor; I’m angry at the conversations my husband and I have about which overseas holiday we’ll enjoy next. All these thoughts and questions seem so trivial and small.

    I’m trying to do my bit to wake people up here in Australia, in the same way I’m trying to wake myself up. At Business Chicks we tell the stories of women doing brave, amazing things in our magazine Latte and on our website every day; we find speakers with heroic stories to tell and big lessons to teach and we put them on our stage at our events; and my team and I try and be role models to others through our actions and beliefs. But, as I was last night, I’m often left feeling a sense of emptiness – that we all could be doing much, much more.

    This Friday I head to Uganda with a bunch of Business Chicks members to see the on the ground impact on women and girls that The Hunger Project is able to achieve. Business Chicks has now collectively raised more than $355,000 for The Hunger Project, and last week at our event we raised more than $11,000 for Somaly’s foundation.

    I’m proud of that, but I’m not done. I hope never to be entirely done.

  2. 600 and counting


    This week’s a special week for my family. My darling grandfather will head into the Sydney Blood Bank, sit in a chair, talk to the nurses he’s known for years, and give his 600th blood donation.

    My Poppy’s a special guy. At 80 years young he still does Meals on Wheels two days a week, driving and delivering food to the ‘oldies’; volunteers every Tuesday at the Maritime Museum working on the old boats (he was a boatbuilder by trade) and every Saturday volunteers again and takes groups out on Sydney Harbour on the tall ships. He still walks with his friends every morning and has been to more Sydney Business Chicks breakfasts than I have (I missed one while on my honeymoon but he was there!).

    I suppose Poppy taught me about serving others, and on Saturday night I had an opportunity to make him proud. I’m travelling to Uganda next month for the Business Chicks Immersion and Leadership Project to witness the work of The Hunger Project (THP) there. In order to do this, each member has to raise at least $10,000 for THP and fund their own travel expenses, and collectively Business Chicks has now raised more than $330,000 for them.

    So on Saturday night I held a gala dinner. It was an intimate’ish affair (by Business Chicks standards!) of about 100 of my friends and family who outdid themselves bidding on auction items and glamming up with their black tie outfits. Emma Louise Birdsall from The Voice entertained the crowd and Sandra Sully was our emcee (she’ll also host the next Business Chicks event which is a lunch with guest speaker Diane von Furstenberg) – she was superb. Altogether we raised $27,875.43, woot! Enjoy the pics and a big thanks to everyone who supported the event, including the amazing Business Chicks team (some of whom are pictured here.) Some of the BC team2

  3. Amazing people, amazing things

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    I’ve always been a big believer that beautiful things happen at the place where business endeavours meet social causes. It’s one thing we’re passionate about at Business Chicks and we’ve done pretty well, raising over $850,000 now for various charities and organisations.

    I also love learning about the cool initiatives that our members have started as a result of wanting to do more and be more. Recently I blogged about Sophie Bartho who founded One Dollar Day – she raised $55,000 and will use these funds to build a health clinic in Laos.

    Another one of our members Emma Hogan also launched a fab project this year called The Amazing People Project. Emma has already raised $115,000 for five charities through encouraging people to do amazing things and raising $1,000 at the same time.

    Something that’s keeping me up at night at the moment (in a good way – my head’s spinning!) is our partnership with The Hunger Project Australia. Next year we’ll be taking two groups of Business Chicks to Uganda and Bangladesh, to see firsthand The Hunger Project’s work. These trips are not for everyone. It’s only for those who want to play a bigger game and get out of their comfort zone. If you’re looking for a way to challenge yourself next year, then check this out and consider joining us.

  4. Imagine for a moment …


    I love supporting good initiatives and I’ve found one that we can all get involved in. Today is One Dollar Day, a simple and innovative fundraising idea where Australians are asked to give just $1 to this cause.


    Funds raised will go to Save The Children to help improve children’s health and education around the world.

    One of the organisers, Sophie Bartho, is a Business Chicks member and said about the initiative: “As a parent of three lucky children who sleep in a warm bed, a safe home, and enjoy a great education and nourishing food, I asked why some children have so much, while so many have so very little.”

    “Eight million children die every year from preventable diseases, 67 million school-aged children are not in school and charities do not have enough money to help them all.

    “In a single day we could begin to turn these statistics and inequities around, improving the health and education of children in some of the world’s poorest communities. On 1$day we’re asking everyone who can, to give $1 for those who can’t, regardless if you earn $1 million as a CEO, or $2 pocket money.”

    I’d love to think that every person who took the time to read this post, would jump straight on to One Dollar Day’s site and give. Imagine what good we could all do if we pool together and get donating. And you have no excuse! Every Australian can afford one dollar to help those in need.

    Great work Sophie and Rob – we look forward to hearing the results!