Roughly 90% of small to medium sized businesses around Australia make up 60% of our economy and close to 1.7 million of the actively trading businesses are run by family members, majority are their lady counterparts. Angela Vithoulkas and Gaye Crispon, the ladies behind Australian Business Champions (ABC), who ooze business from every pore, are here to unmask the unrecognized partners to come forward and claim their rightful positions.
Australian Business Champions is a new and unique social enterprise, created to championing and empowering the wives and partners who put in the hard yards in the background, which these two women were no strangers to.
Angela knew all too well what it was like to be a shadow working in her family run retail business before embarking on becoming a multi-award winning successful businesswoman in the hospitality industry. “When Gaye first spoke with me about this venture, it set a light bulb moment for me as I realized my mother and I too, were ABC’s,” she says. “I often felt invisible because of my gender and youth and it’s taken me years to develop a profile and persona in business myself and now it’s time for me to address that gap.”
Gaye spent nearly 30 years working behind the scenes in the small to medium business world from sales and marketing to establishing a successful telemarketing operation in Sydney’s Western suburb of Parramatta. She was the first person in Australia to devise a system to market investment properties over the phone.
Gaye says “once upon a time, this country was built on the idea that businesses were male owned and run but that in fact was a myth and how the structure was made to appear.” “Market places are almost female driven but we’ve always had women in business who were unrecognized.”
Having just launched this month, Gaye and Angela are set to build a community that is far reaching and very much spread out and the only effective way to reach the ignored community is via establishing ABC as an online social business.
“No government department or any official research area has acknowledged that this level of the community exists and we can’t find any data,” says Angela.
Gaye describes the SME community as being around since this country first settled. “With the amount of hours contributed and without their input, the economy would collapse,” says Gaye. “It’s millions of man hours that are often going unrecognized.” And for 50 cents a day, registered ABC community members can go online to “ask it” on abccommunity.com.au, relating any need to their business, which in return ABC find an expert exclusively, to provide “solid, reliable and professional information from tax, credit and debt management, health, exercise to GST, branding, social media and merchant facilities.”
“Any question that a small business might have, we’ve created that space, where they can go on and get their answers,” says Gaye.
A very unique aspect of ABC’s membership is they contribute 50% of its membership fees into supporting a social enterprise of the ABC community, The 100 Future Women Leaders Project. It’s the first of its kind to be launched in March. The project aims to help and develop 100 young girls from the ages of seven to 11, who are from out of home care, from disadvantaged backgrounds, supporting them to become future leaders of this country with special learning unto tertiary education.
Gaye believes the ABC community is a movement to bring about total equality and a part of the recognition is to “reward and award”. Once a year, the first Friday of June, ABC will annually hold an ABC day. The very first event is to be held in Sydney and within three years, they have plans to roll out it out nationally. Every week, judges will pick the top ten stories submitted via its website platform and at the end of the year, the selected will be awarded at the Australian Business Champions Awards ceremony.
“Being in business isn’t just about the balance sheet,” says Angela. “It’s the contribution, the level of responsibility and what they go through to help their partner and business and that’s what we are going to reward in a significant way.”
“We want to bring in change. We want the community to appreciate it, recognize it and accept it,” ends Gaye.