Connecting Canberra women and celebrating their unique differences has always been a passion for Rae Knopik. The founder of The CBR Gals Network was one of nine women recognised and celebrated for their ‘Great Ydeas’ YWCA Canberra’s Great Ydeas Small Grants Program Innovation Breakfast on Thursday 29 April. She spoke to Canberra Weekly about her latest project, The CBR Gals Network Directory.
What is the CBR Gals Network Directory?
I’ll jump into the CBR Gals Network first and then I’ll jump into the Directory because it’s closely related! The CBR Gals Network is a woman-based not-for-profit here in Canberra, that enables women to be more in their personal and professional capacities. We are building a more inclusive culture by supporting women economically and socially. Now the Directory is a wonderful initiative that is the free repository of all women-run businesses in Canberra. If you’re a woman who runs a business, you can sign up for free, and put your business on this platform, and if you are a user, like me, and I want to just Google women-run businesses in Canberra, I can find all of them listed in this place. The reason why we’re building this is because we have found through our research that women do want to support other women, but they don’t always know how.
Where did the idea come from?
We listened to our members and what the members in the community were wanting and shopping. The original idea came out during COVID. We thought, “We’ve got all these wonderful women who run all these amazing businesses, let’s just put them in the same directory as put them in the same place”. It’ll allow women to shop from other women and it’ll also allow these businesses to collaborate.
Why did you apply for the Great Ydeas Grant?
The Directory has been a long time coming, we’ve been working on it for about a year now and we really needed that final step of financial support to help get it going. We already have just under 200 names in the Directory of women’s businesses who are already signed up and ready to go and we just needed that last final push to bring us over the line so that we could create it, build it and send it off into the world, ready to be used.
How did it feel when you heard you received the grant?
It was a huge, exciting moment! It is a bit of relief because we have been working on this so long and so many women are so emotionally invested in it that to breathe life into it is very exciting for us.
Where are you hoping to take the CBR Gals Network Directory in the future?
We’re going to start with all women run businesses in Canberra, and this is not just the big businesses like restaurants that we all know and love. These are the small independent “I’m a one-woman operator, I’m the designer, I’m the marketer, I’m the front face of the brand”, those kind of single proprietor businesses. Once we hit Canberra then we’ll expand out to the greater regions, right beyond Canberra, and then go from there.
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