Money for Jam

One third of Australian women over 60 years of age live in permanent income poverty

Warwick Smith and Katelijne Lenaerts from The Centre for Applied Policy in Positive Ageing (CAPPA) with co-design participants of the Money For Jam model.

This is a damning statistic for one of the richest countries in the world. Women are particularly financially vulnerable for a variety of social and structural reasons, including a lack of appropriate employment services, pervasive age and gender discrimination, family breakdown, domestic violence and interrupted careers due to child raising and other caring responsibilities.

On the other hand, micro-enterprise and self-employment are often promoted to long-term unemployed people as an option for income generation, for example through the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS), and these business start-up programs mostly assume uptake and interest in their programs by people self-identifying with entrepreneurship. Although their life experiences demonstrate resilience and resourcefulness, many women in their 50s and beyond do not identify with what they see as the masculine world and language of business and are hesitant to join these programs, whilst the mainstream employment support system also doesn’t serve them well. So they fall between the cracks ...

The Centre for Applied Policy in Positive Ageing (CAPPA), the ‘do tank’ of think tank Per Capita, has developed a unique solution to greater economic participation for women over 50 years who are at risk of poverty. The innovative model, called Money For Jam (MFJ), tackles financial insecurity using the vehicle of micro-enterprise, by building emotional wellbeing first, then building financial wellbeing by linking life experiences with business opportunities.

The MFJ model was designed together with 13 women who shared their life stories, current circumstances, the impact of lost confidence due to long-term employment and personal crises and the lack of interest in life skills by employment support services. They told us that an approach of taking action over plans is crucial as it is taking the reality of women’s lives into consideration, including their strengths, limitations and other priorities.

MFJ empowers women who think they can't be entrepreneurs towards a changed attitude of "I can". When exiting the MFJ program, women will have built resilience, greater financial security and more confidence with entering the masculine world of small business. This will also enable women over 50, who are at risk of poverty, to create financial wellbeing through micro-enterprise and other forms of workforce participation.

[Source: Katelijne Lenaerts is the Director of The Centre for Applied Policy in Positive Ageing (CAPPA) at Per Capita. For more information and a copy of the report, please contact Katelijne Leaerts on 0467 711 669,]