“I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs,” says 26-year-old Yarrie Bangura. “Business was how my aunties and my mum made a living. Then, after we fled the war in Sierra Leone, I watched my mum hustle to survive, selling bags of rice at the market to make a profit.”
Yet when Yarrie shared her own plans to start her business, Aunty’s Ginger Tonic, her mum did everything she could to discourage her.
“She pointed out that there was no one in my life with my skin colour that I could look to as a role model,” says Yarrie, who now lives in Sydney. “Knowing that I wanted to contribute to Australia, which had given me a second chance at life, Mum said I should complete my degree, get a job and give back that way. She was trying to be kind - I think she was afraid I’d be heartbroken by people not accepting my business.”
As Yarrie told this story to Janine Allis last week, the Boost Juice founder and Leading Women Fund ambassador experienced a jolt of recognition. When Janine started Boost Juice 20 years ago, her grandmother commented that no one would ever listen to her in business because she was a woman.
“She could not believe I was running a company,” she laughs. “It was only when she read an article about me in the Herald Sun that she accepted it was true.”
Although Janine and Yarrie are connected through Australia for UNHCR (Yarrie is a Special Youth Representative), the women hadn’t met until their Zoom call last week, which had been facilitated by national director Naomi Steer (“I knew they’d get on,” she says). Sure enough, they hit it off - finding common ground in their approach to business, and life.
“What I like about her is that she was willing to have a crack - to have a go,” says Janine. “She has a great product that taps into a number of trends - she’s onto something.” And for Yarrie, the opportunity to talk business with Janine was a dream come true.
“When I started my business, I needed to build my confidence, so I did a lot of research to find entrepreneurs who weren’t born with a silver spoon in their mouths and had to work hard, like me,” she says, with excitement in her voice. “That’s how I came across Janine. I watched her all the time on the screen. So felt too good to be true to actually talk to her.”
“I thought I was dreaming,” she laughs.
Women have always known the power of connection, which is one of the most exciting aspects of the Leading Women Fund. Donors to the fund will join a community of engaged, dynamic changemakers like Yarrie and Janine, who are committed to supporting women, both here and overseas.
“One of the reasons we need networks is that no one has all the answers,” says Janine. “So the best groups of people are those that have a range of skills and are prepared to share. I find there’s always someone in a group who forces you to think differently about a problem, or has a contact that can help you.”
In the three years it took to research her business prior to launch last year, Yarrie reached out to anyone she thought might help. “I wrote to companies to see if they’d take me on as a trainee, and refugee organisations to see if they’d help me, too, which they did,” she says.
After perfecting her ginger tonic - based on a much-loved family recipe - Yarrie sold it at markets, which is where she met a customer who helped her find a manufacturer. “I could never make enough in my kitchen - we always sold out,” she says. “And this customer said, ‘Yarrie, there is another way.’”
Now, Aunty’s Ginger Tonic is sold in retailers such as Harris Farm, and Yarrie’s new focus is scaling the business. Janine has agreed to mentor her, and Yarrie in turn mentors other people from refugee backgrounds like her own.
“For me, I believe that a life lived just for myself is a life wasted, but a life that empowers other people is fulfilled,” she says. “I run workshops with disadvantaged young people and I go to schools, and I talk to young people about business, because it seems scary, right? But I don’t talk to them about the business, I talk to them about creativity. Because if they fall in love with an idea, they’ll give it 100 per cent.
“When I arrived in Australia I was so grateful for what felt like a second opportunity at life. I made a promise to myself that I would do everything I could to contribute.”
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We use the personal information you provide us with for the purpose for which it was provided to us, other related purposes or as permitted or required by law. Generally we collect and use your personal information for:
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Other than as stated above, we will not share your personal information. However, it is possible, though unlikely, that we might be forced to disclose personal information in response to legal processes or when we believe in good faith that the law requires it, for example, in response to a court order, subpoena or a law enforcement agency's request.
If you do not wish Australia for UNHCR to share your personal information with like-minded and trusted organisations in Australia, you may opt out by ticking the related boxes on our donation pledge forms or by contacting our Donor Care team; contact details are included at the bottom of this policy.
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Individuals wishing to lodge a request to access and/or correct their personal information should do so by contacting our Donor Care Team; contact details are included at the bottom of this document.
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Australia for UNHCR will review, on a regular and ongoing basis, its collection and storage practices to ascertain how improvements to accuracy can be achieved. We may utilise the services of third parties in order to maintain accurate personal information. Where such disclosure is made, we take reasonable steps to require these organisations comply with the Australian Privacy Principles.
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We strive to protect your personal information, that it is protected from misuse, loss, interference and unauthorised access, modification or disclosure. For example, whenever we ask for your financial details online, we use industry standard security on our website forms.
No data transmission over the internet can be guaranteed to be 100% secure. As a result, while we strive to protect your personal information, Australia for UNHCR cannot ensure or warrant the security of any information you transmit to us over the internet, and you do so at your own risk. Once we receive your transmission, we make our best effort to try and ensure its security both on our systems and while in transit between our systems and the companies who provide us with various services. Third party service providers may use data centres overseas or be located overseas. If you do not wish to make your financial contribution online, please contact our Donor Care Team to receive a hard copy form; contact details are included at the bottom of this policy.
Making a Privacy Complaint
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General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
A4U does not have an establishment in the European Union (EU), does not offer goods or services to individuals in the EU and does not monitor behaviour of individuals as far as their behaviour takes place in the EU. Individuals located in the EU should contact UNHCR’s National Representatives in their respective countries or via the global UNHCR website.
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