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Mosman Local Creates Marketplace for Migrant and Refugee Women

Born from the pandemic, Made by Many Hands is an online marketplace like no other. Here’s how you can support under-represented female entrepreneurs and get some amazing products in return…

Born from the understanding that migrant and refugee women often encounter barriers to entrepreneurship, such as access to marketing tools, lower financial and technical literacy, and financial barriers – two women set-out to level that playing field.

Hailing from Chile, Maria Alejandra Valenzuela grew up with an entrepreneurial spirit that saw her first selling tomatoes from her family’s farm as a young girl. “I learned traditional jewellery in a workshop in the city of Rancagua. I learned to work with aluminium, a flexible allergenic material that looks like silver, as well as copper and lapis lazuli. I wanted to offer these pieces to clients in my new home of Australia.”

Corinne Kemp and Luz Restrepo were drawn together by a passion to support entrepreneurial women in Australia to gain economic empowerment. While Luz is Melbourne-based, Corinne is a local Mosman resident. When asked what inspired her to co-found Made by Many Hands, Corinne says, “When Covid-19 first hit our shores in early 2019 – we knew that the migrant and refugee community would be hit hard. Many people stepped up to support others in the community. Creating an online marketplace where migrant women could sell their products from the safety of home was one way that I could make a difference.”

Like so many passion projects that are the silver lining that have emerged from this global pandemic – Made by Many Hands has come to life because women in our community answered the call for support – from building the platform, to mentoring some of our sellers.

Damalie Tyran owns The Wig Chic. She migrated to Geelong from Uganda and is aged 31. After the birth of her daughter, she began to lose her hair. Having just arrived in Australia, Damalie couldn’t afford to go to a salon, so she made her own wig and a business was born!

Made by Many Hands provides migrant and refugee women with the infrastructure – including an easy-to-use dashboard to manage products and services, and a platform to take ownership of their business growth, customers, and profit.

“As a social enterprise our focus is to support migrant and refugee women on their pathway to business success. We have created an environment whereby the women we work with are given a hand up, not a hand-out.” Corinne highlights that it’s an important distinction which encourages the women she works with to believe in their own business ideas and capacity.

It’s free for migrant entrepreneurs to join the platform. When a seller sells her product, she retains 85% of the sale. The remaining 15% is ploughed back into the platform’s development and the creation of educational tools for the community to up-skill and grow.

Denara Amat owns Seda Collective and is a 27-year-old Uyghur/Uzbek woman born in East Turkestan. Her beautiful beaded jewellery has impressed the likes of Australian fashion label Gorman, who she recently collaborated with.

When asked how our Mosman community can help this great program, Corinne says the best thing you can do is to support it with your business. “We’re all online shopping either to send a gift of cheer to a friend that we can’t see in person, or perhaps to cheer ourselves up in lockdown. What better way to make that gifting go further by buying local and supporting a migrant entrepreneur building her life in Australia.”

Made by Many Hands has over 50 sellers (and growing every day) with products ranging from fashion and accessories to food and products for your pampered pooches. Corinne goes on to say “We’ve just this month launched our corporate gifting program – so well worth checking out if you run a business and want to recognise your staff and clients in a meaningful way.”

To learn more about Made by Many Hands, visit their website, Instagram or Facebook.