Empowering women aged 50 and over to start their own business

An ageing population is a global phenomenon and Australia is no exception. Although there are labour shortages experienced in many industries, participation of over-50s, particularly women, within the labour market has been declining rapidly, due to age and gender discrimination and lack of understanding of contributions older workers can make. 

The Sisters Project, led by Dr Dhara Shah aims to empower ‘sisters’ by building their self-efficacy, fostering their earnings, bringing them together in groups to form support networks or partnerships, and providing them with skill development, training, mentoring and coaching support, and grants to start a small business. 

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"Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap
but by the seeds that you plant."

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Voluntary participation

Participation is voluntary. You are free to withdraw at any time without reason or consequence. A departure interview will be conducted to ensure participants have sufficient support.

Publishing data

A de-identified copy of this data and research results will be reported in academic honours theses, and disseminated via journal articles, conference presentations, and media reports. De-identified and redacted research results will be reported to the Australian Government and other government partners.

Ethical clearance

Griffith University is committed to the highest ethical standards in the conduct of our research.

A full ethical clearance has been received by Griffith ethics committee GU ref no: 2018/983. You are able to request a summary of the research results at the completion of the research by emailing the Team Leader.


The information collected is confidential and will not be disclosed to third parties without consent, except to meet government, legal or other regulatory authority requirements. Your anonymity will be safeguarded at all times .

Getting started

This program is to assist you to start a business by yourself or in partnership with other like-minded women, with coaching, support, training and small grants.

It is expected that you will be involved in the project for one year, with the option to withdraw at any time. During that time you will gain the skills and confidence to not just run the business but which may translate to employment opportunities.

At the start to help us assess your eligibility and interest, you will be asked to complete a 15- 20 minutes survey and participate in approximately a 45 minutes to one-hour interview. The interviews will be audio-recorded for transcription. There will be follow-up interviews and surveys held at 6 months and 12 months.


During the year, the project team will visit you fortnightly for a 15-minute conversation to ensure you are doing fine and provide support.

You will get an opportunity to meet like-minded women, to form groups of three, to either form partnerships or support group.

If you already have a business idea and wish to explore it, the team will work with you to check on its feasibility. If not, the team will provide you with some pre-tested business in box ideas to select from. Support will be provided to develop your business plan.

You will be provided with funding for business as per business needs analysis.

You will be given all the training, skill-development and coaching in managing business, finance and work/life.

A Mentor will be allocated to each business, to provide support and guidance through the first year of business.