We recently announced Bronwyn Bate from Mettle Women Inc as the very deserving winner of our Small Business Grant, thanks to our friends at Microsoft (she received a $10,000 cash grant, plus a membership to our Business Club program and a one-on-one discovery and training workshop with a Microsoft Master Trainer!)
You asked to learn more about her incredible social enterprise …. so we’ve delivered! Meet amazing Bronwyn, a Business Chicks member doing life-changing work for women experiencing homelessness as a result of domestic and family violence.
Congratulations on winning the Small Business Grant! For those who are new to Mettle, can you tell us about your business and how it came to fruition?
We’re so grateful to be the recipient of such a special grant. Mettle Women Inc. is a non-profit social enterprise that operates a national gift delivery service, staffed by women experiencing homelessness in our partner crisis shelters as a result of domestic and family violence. After years of working in the non-profit space I was so saddened to see that despite the incredible efforts of front-line service providers, 52% of women residing in crisis accommodation as a result of domestic and family violence had been there before. Mettle is the product of a year of research with survivors around Australia to find out why they were returning to homelessness and abuse. With these courageous women, the Mettle Business plan was designed to act as a mechanism to get women facing homelessness back into the workforce (should that be their desire) and working towards the safe future they deserved.
Tell us about some of the women you employ …
I am SO privileged to work alongside these incredible women! They have taught me so much more than I could ever teach them. They’re all phenomenal but our first-ever program participant, whose name I can’t share for her safety, is a truly inspiring woman. When she started at Mettle she was residing in a crisis refuge and had been lived there for nine months with her 16-year-old son, unable to leave because of the legitimate threat to her life. After six months of working with us, and navigating some incredibly traumatic court cases, she saved enough for a bond and moved into her own safe apartment. Shortly after, we provided a scholarship for her to complete her year ten studies. This unlocked a love for learning and we are so proud to share that she is now one year into her counselling diploma, looking to help women through what she once endured.
The word ethical gets thrown around a lot in business. What does it mean to Mettle?
We’re so proud to operate a business that is producing a great social outcome and is also ethical in how it operates. It’s important to us that we adhere to practices that support the women in our care as well as the environment, and other small businesses in our community. We consciously partner with providers who can supply us with locally made and environmentally sustainable goods and packaging. We also strongly encourage and celebrate diversity in our workplace because it makes our studio such a special place to work.
What have been some of your biggest learnings in business to date?
1 – Be an active listener – I’m not naturally a big talker and I think this was an asset in building our business because I listened to what the beneficiaries actually wanted rather than pretending I knew.
2 – Be honest with yourself and others – It’s okay to be out of your depth, be honest about it so you can identify what you need to help you flourish.
3- Be willing to do the hard work.
Mettle now has a board of five wonderful humans. What was the process of establishing this?
I thought about the first roles I would hire for if I was looking to start a for-profit business and noted the areas of expertise that fell outside of my remit. I then connected with people I had worked with who I trusted had a good moral compass and a wealth of knowledge beyond the non-profit space. I wanted a mix of commercial and charitable minds so that the business could succeed in both domains and I’m so lucky to have secured such brilliant people. We have a marketing and numbers whizz, front-line mental health nurse, strategy queen, and a serial entrepreneur. They are the BEST!
What advice would you give someone who’s interested in launching a social enterprise?
You MUST design a service that your beneficiaries deem is necessary. The knowledge we gained from having meaningful conversations with survivors was priceless.
Tell us about your corporate offering? How can the Business Chicks community support you?
We generate most of our revenue from beautiful businesses who use their purchasing power to support us whenever they have an event, need client or staff onboarding gifts, for hotel guest packs, PR boxes, you name it. Our products are manufactured by the women in our program in our Perth-based warehouse and we ship Australia-wide, working with small orders of 50, all the way up to the thousands. Our favourite partnerships are those where we get to custom design branded products for clients who love our gifts but want their brand to shine.
Finally, what’s next for Mettle? What are you excited for?
As a result of this grant, we have secured the lease for a second premises that will create an additional 20 jobs for women in crisis every year and host a retail shop, workshop spaces, and therapy rooms. We’re calling it The Conversations & Creations Hub. This space will be open to the community and will be a really big step in scaling the impact we can have for some of the most deserving women and children imaginable.