The Trading Circle launches new initiative

Exciting possibilities ahead

The Trading Circle

Since 1995 The Trading Circle has operated in Australia as a not-for-profit fair trade organisation with the sole aim of empowering women and girls in developing countries to trade their way out of poverty with dignity.  The Trading Circle markets products made in Good Shepherd projects overseas, providing a fair price for the Producer Groups.

Recent years have seen a change in economic situations and some purchasing practices in Australia, and the goal of sustainability of The Trading Circle as a project within Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand has seemed to be less achievable.  This led to the decision to focus attention on a smaller number of Producer Groups, in Thailand and the Philippines.  Also, it has been necessary to engage in a process of rationalizing The Trading Circle outlets to one shop in the Sydney suburb of Summer Hill.

Now a new initiative is launched which brings fresh opportunity for future sustainability and even expansion.

Four Brave Women

Four Brave Women is an initiative of The Trading Circle that works to empower refugees living in Australia to be able to operate and grow their own small business in an inclusive and well-supported environment. The aim is to give refugees a live experience of working in a commercial kitchen, serving customers and managing the day-to-day running of a small business in Australia. After a cycle of 8 weeks, the goal is for them to gain enough capital and knowledge to branch out and establish a business of their own.  The menu will change every eight weeks as a new group of cooks serves a range of delicious meals inspired by their own cultural heritage.

The name of the café Four Brave Women is to honour the four Good Shepherd Sisters who travelled from Ireland in 1863, sent by St Mary Euphrasia to develop Good Shepherd mission in Australia.  Refugee women have made the long journey to Australia to find safety, hope and a new home.

Unique concept

The Trading Circle has introduced a unique retail concept helping women both in Australia and overseas.  The café Four Brave Women has the capacity to lift the profile of The Trading Circle and attract many new people. 

Opening events

In April 2018 Opening celebrations and events took place in the shop/café. These were attended by Sister Monica Walsh, Province Leader, Mr John Gleeson, Chair of The Trading Circle board and other board members, sisters, staff and volunteers and attracted large numbers of local people who had been following progress of the new shop/café, as well as members of the public who heard about the project through media coverage and social media. 

More photos of opening events here

Chair of The Trading Circle board

Opening speech by Mr John Gleeson - summary:

The Trading Circle has been working in overseas communities for 23 years helping to create financial stability for women, girls and their families. The Trading Circle has helped many women trade their way out of poverty overseas and we are still very focused on that task.

However, tonight we celebrate the expansion of the Trading Circle as we seek to help refugee women in Australia. This café will enable these women to reduce their social isolation while earning a dignified income.

The Trading Circle has always operated by giving women the means to raise themselves out of poverty with their own hands. We have started a new chapter in The Trading Circle and are very lucky to have received help from so many fantastic volunteers. 

We have long term plans to expand and help more refugees. To this end we will be seeking donations as well as corporate sponsorship.

Special thanks and appreciation to Bindi Lea, our National Manager, and her staff.  They have done a magnificent job in setting up the new shop/café.

National Manager, The Trading Circle

The enormous task of relocating and expanding the site of The Trading Circle and launching Four Brave Women has been led by Ms Bindi Lea, National Manager.  Bindi is a true leader, attracting the generosity of other skilled and talented people.  Her speech expresses strong appreciation and shows the scale of contribution of a large number of people.   

Complete text of Bindi Lea's talk here

Brief summary below:  

We thank all those who have been involved in this journey. What started as a very small seed of thought several years ago has now become a reality thanks to each and every person that has so generously given their time, energy and skills to The Trading Circle and Four Brave Women.

Firstly, a thank you to the Sisters for without whom we would not be standing here right now. They have handed us an incredible legacy which we feel honoured to carry forward and we hope that by the opening of Four Brave Women we will be able to continue their mission and The Trading Circle’s work first begun 24 years ago by Sister Anne Manning and Sister Helen Swiggs.

We would also like to thank:

- Lindy, Alanna and Katie, our staff.  You have worked incredibly hard to see this get off the ground. There is no way to express how grateful we are for your enormous dedication, generosity, energy and support.  None of this would have been possible without you.

- Our team of volunteers.  Without every single hour so generously given by all of you, we would not be open right now. Our incredible volunteer team is unique and we feel blessed to be surrounded and supported by such an extraordinary group of people.

- The SSI and Ignite team, in particular Merenia and Dina, who have worked so hard with Zara, her family, Adi and many other refugees to get them to a place where they are ready to operate their own business.

- The Trading Circle Board who have strongly supported this idea, with special thanks to John, our Chair.  You been on the phone constantly offering advice and have flown up twice from Melbourne to provide practical help.

- John and Sandra, our new landlords. John, you have gone above and beyond and we appreciate every hour you have spent getting our shop ready to open. 

The Trading Circle website

Click here -

The Trading Circle celebrates 20 years

Click here - Celebrating 20 years, in 2015

The Trading Circle receives Community Award

Click here - Community Award, in 2016