Entrepreneurship, philanthropy and why doing good stuff makes sense, to everyone, and every business.

If you read this piece and are wondering why philanthropy must go hand in hand with entrepreneurship, business and your social footprint (always), in whatever format works for you, I wanted to share what some of the most EXTRAORDINARY people I know have helped me achieve in the last three months.

700kg of school and education material has landed in Fiji as part of an initiative I created in September after the devastation I saw post Cyclone Winston, “RakiRaki Schools Initiative”

Entrepreneurs seek to find solutions, outcomes and impact.

Forty six people died in this cyclone, schools flattened, homes washed away, and even after this devastation, just three weeks ago on my return to Fiji, torrential floods wiped the villages out again. Many left with nothing.

Goods include furniture, stationary, reading books, educational toys and the time and energy taken by those to make calls, freight goods, store goods, transport things. It’s been not only a privilege to work with such values aligned people, but to have a spirit of generosity from all corners of business and life extended.

The youngest donor, just 6 years old and the oldest in their 70’s. We received thirty handmade origami cranes from a seven year old entrepreneur from Wagga Wagga,(regional NSW), 350kg of stationary from Pelikan, furniture from B Seated Global and much much more. It goes to show that giving and compassion is timeless, ageless and border-less.

All because I tapped a note to Michael Muehlheim, a Rare Birds mentor and supporter seeking his help and connections. The entire Inspiring Rare Birds community came to the foreground and I have been massively overwhelmed by the generosity and good will.

I’d like you to read the letter I’ve written for the donors because they are the heroes. I am providing a lovo (traditional Fijian lunch cooked in the ground – yes, yum!) tomorrow on the island of Nananu-i-ra, and will welcome the Minister of Education, Heritage and Arts, two village chiefs, two village elders, three school principals and three head teachers, along with the owner of Safari Lodge, my family and locals dedicating their time and effort to make the lovo.

Tomorrow we feast, and tomorrow 600 school children have the right to world class education again.

As they say in Fiji – vinaka vakelevu

Donor Letter

Bula and good afternoon Minister, VIPs, chiefs, elders, principals, teachers, friends and family,

Welcome to the RakiRaki Schools Donor Lunch.

After visiting RakiRaki in September 2016, I was saddened and devastated to learn the foundation of education and was destroyed in the region. As an entrepreneur, it is easier to see solutions rather than problems, so I set myself a task to hopefully make a small and valuable contribution to your community.

From a Ministry press release (11th August 2016), on International Youth Day, the Minister says “We believe that investment in education is investment for a prosperous future Fiji. Youths are of course the backbone of our country and the Bainimarama Government wants to ensure that Fiji’s future is full of hope and opportunities. A knowledge based society is where individuals are able to rise above variables of differences like, religion and ethnicity and make decisions based on logic and reasoning for the overall benefit of all Fijians.

We want our youths to have knowledge of all factors of production, the society, accommodate others belief systems and be competent on a global scale in all facets of world-wide development.”

In October 2016 I commenced contacting and mobilizing people of influence, care, compassion and value alignment to launch an initiative to refit, restock and renew books, educational material and furniture to enable education at a world class level. I believe literacy and education is the foundation for any journey in life for youth and adults. Education encourages and enables entrepreneurship, independence, creativity, confidence and self value. It empowers a thirst for learning at the highest levels.

I adore the Fijian people and their culture, one of Australia’s closest neighbours. I wanted to make a difference, not just for today, but for years to come. I humbly bestow these goods to the Principals of the schools as custodians to ensure the next generation of Fijian children from Ellington, RakiRaki and Novalou Primary Schools have every opportunity possible to learn, be curious, thrive and lead.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the following individuals, businesses and their teams (listed in the letter) that gave educational goods, school furniture, time, energy and effort to enable the refit and supply for three RakiRaki Schools post Cyclone Winston in February and the recent flooding of the villages.

With my warmest regards and vinaka vakelevu,

Jo Burston

Founder and CEO Job Capital

Founder and CEO Inspiring Rare Birds Pty Ltd

Co-Founder and MD Phronesis.Academy



Bruce Haynes, Managing Director Pelikan Artline Pty Ltd – 350kg of notebooks, pens, paper and stationery

Greig Lamport, Director Kalgin Int’l Freight Services Freight – All goods from Sydney to Fiji

Michael Muehlheim, Advisor/Wealth Manager Macquarie Bank – Contact to Pelikan Artline and an ongoing mentor and supporter of Inspiring Rare Birds philanthropic initiatives

The General Manager TOTAL LOGISTICS SOLUTIONS (FIJI) LTD – Freight handling and storage in Fiji

Leah Wallace – Children’s books

Dr Richard Seymour, Co-Founder Phronesis.Academy and Head of Entrepreneurship and Innovation University of Sydney – Startup.Business Program to teach entrepreneurship in school curriculum across Fiji

Lynette Burston and friends – 4 boxes of new children’s books and games

Harriet Davies (6 years) – 3 boxes of children’s books

Danielle Klein Menachemson, Founder B Seated Global – 20 school chairs and furniture

Agustin Candusso (7 years) – 30 peace origami cranes

Wagga Wagga Library – 8 boxes of children’s books

Kate Middleton, CEO Censeo Engineering and Founder Career Oracle – School Stationery

Bronwyn Drury – Children’s books

Steven Hui, Founder Iflyflat – Children’s and adult business books

Warren Francis Owner Safari Lodge – Logistics, transport and lunch host

Zoe and Demi Burston (12yrs & 10yrs) – School stationery and children’s books

Any many many other people who anonymously dropped goods to my home.

Read this piece today published by the Fijian Times – Rare Birds raise help for Rakiraki schools

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Jo Burston
Jo Burston
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How To Start Believing You Really Can Have A Global Business

Vintage toned Wall Street at sunset, NYC.


Today’s world is truly global. Thanks to the internet and advances in technology, we are more connected than ever. Doorways for businesses to grow around the world and access new customers have opened up, and as a business owner you should take notice.


The entrepreneurs who are set up to have a global business from the get go are ahead of the pack. You should start believing that your business can go global. Do that and you will be putting your best foot forward.


Small scale or born global?

According to research from Women In Global Business (WIGB), Australian women-owned businesses that have expanded overseas achieve greater success, with one-third of global business operations earning more than half their revenue internationally. There are real opportunities for startups to grow globally and fast – WIGB reports that 42 per cent of women-owned businesses internationalised within 12 months of launch, and 81 per cent within the first five years.

These business owners may not have expected to achieve such growth and expansion from the get go, but a majority of them reached this milestone quite early on in their journey. Startups that plan to go global from the outset often make the transition into other regions more quickly and easily than other competitors.

So how can you set your business up to succeed internationally in the early days?

1. Plan big

When you are building your business plan you have to make it scalable. The successful businesses that consider the global growth opportunities include international growth in their plans.

Mapping out the timeline, investment, suppliers and other requirements your global business will need that may be different to a local operation will help keep you on track to reach the goal.

2. Seek out avenues for capital

Global businesses come with additional costs. Armed with your business plan, you should seek out capital to support your internationalisation. Getting buy-in and investment is a key challenge for women-owned businesses, however there are funding options available to help propel your business idea into the international space.

3. Choose the right tech

Technology that can support changes in the way your business operates as it scales can save you making costly and time consuming changes as your turnover and staffing levels increase. Software such as the cloud accounting software Xero, and Slack, the messaging app for teams, enable you to add on functionality as and when you need it.

4. Build a network

Networks can make or break a business. As a business owner you need to foster relationships.

Consider the potential regions you might expand into and start building a network in that area. Getting insight from a mentor with experience in a particular place is a great way to start. Localised suppliers, factories, marketers and distributors are all important parts of the business that you will need to source in each region. Having contacts to advise and support you is imperative.

5. Adapt and innovate

Each market is unique and different. Just because something works in Australia, doesn’t mean it will take off in China. A business that is adaptable is more likely to succeed, so be ready and willing to make changes and concessions for different areas. This is where market research and analysis will help.

Be willing to do things differently – innovate and challenge your own ideas.

In this day and age exporting is a huge opportunity for Australian business owners. Learn from the successful startups before you and set your business up to be born global.

Like this article? Read more on this subject: 

Solving The Problem Of How To Scale Your Business
How Australian women entrepreneurs are going global
5 ways a mentor can help you overcome hurdles

1 Comment to “How To Start Believing You Really Can Have A Global Business”

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The Gently-Used Clothing Franchise With A Triple-Bottom-Line



For Chelsea Sloan Carroll, there’s a lot to love about the resale clothing industry as well as the franchise business model. Here, the co-founder of the American resale clothing chain Uptown Cheapskate sings the praises of the freedom, flexibility, and fulfilment in leading franchisees to build an international brand.

Chelsea Sloan Carroll’s resale clothing franchise Uptown Cheapskate, has grown from a single location in 2009 to a national presence employing more than 500 people across the United States. Unlike traditional retail, Uptown Cheapskate purchases gently-used, stylish clothing from local customers looking to clear out closet space, and has developed a niche market for frugal shoppers who want brand names without the price tag. Uptown Cheapskate’s stores are individually owned by local franchisees, and Carroll is heavily involved in developing a consistent – and successful – system used in stores from California to New York. “I love that the Uptown model provides people the opportunity to own their own businesses,” she says.

Franchise flexibility

Carroll is especially passionate about how her company improves work-life balance for her franchisees. “There are so many intelligent, hardworking, awesome women who also want to have families,” she says. “But because there’s just not flexibility for it in most offices, an artificial barrier is imposed between parenthood and climbing the corporate ladder. A lot of our best franchisees are mothers who say, ‘I’d like to make my own hours. I don’t mind working hard; I can do that. But I need to be my own boss so that when my kid is sick or I just want to catch her soccer game at 3 o’clock, I can leave my store and have that flexibility.’”

Triple-bottom-line businesses

Indeed, for Carroll, business is a way for people to ethically earn an income on their own terms and to create jobs. “The only businesses that I would build,” she says, “are ones that have social and environmental benefits as well as a focus on profits. They’re called ‘triple-bottom-line’ businesses, and they’re rare, but necessary in this day and age. Uptown Cheapskate hits the triple bottom line by paying millions of dollars each year back into the community while making it easy for people to recycle their clothes.” In other words, she’s not interested in building a business that doesn’t give back to the community while making money as a general course of business. “Making money for the franchise is great, but it’s not my first or second or even third priority,” she says. “I care first that my franchisees are able to be profitable in their locations, and I strongly believe that our focus on intangibles will bolster company growth in both the short and the long term.”

Power versus persuasion

When you’re a franchisor, says Carroll, you technically have the power to do whatever you want to do. “But in practice, you walk a delicate tightrope of balancing franchisor versus franchisee interests. The franchisor’s responsibility is to protect the brand and to help franchisees succeed, and the franchisee wants to run a profitable store. When franchisees want to do their own thing because they believe they have a better way, this can lead to conflict.”

So how do you get consensus? Adopt best practices, be persuasive, and back up decisions with data, says Carroll. Uptown Cheapskate’s 2015 Annual Meeting is a case in point. “Our corporate office said to our franchisees, ‘Look guys, here are the numbers. They demonstrate clearly that if you do markdowns every month to rapidly turn inventory, your sales will increase.’” Fortunately, her franchisees listened. “Same-store sales were up 20.1 per cent in 2015,” says Carroll. “It was a terrific year, and we’re still on fire from it. 2015 was not a great year for most retail clothing, but it was a really great year for us as we worked together to build the brand.”

Are you a women entrepreneur in the United States with a business turning over more than $10M? At Rare Birds, we’re looking for founders to appear in our latest book! Email our lead writer and editor now and tell us your business story and turnover.

1 Comment to “The Gently-Used Clothing Franchise With A Triple-Bottom-Line”

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Women of Influence: Startup Daily’s Top 50 Women in Tech 2016


To be a top influencer, means that socially and economically a difference is being made, by an individual, with a positive impact. The ripple effect of women in tech and women entrepreneurs globally can start with a simple action locally. Measuring impact is one of the hardest efforts any individual or organisation can actually do. The process matters and the vision is critical, however how it effects the entrepreneur them-self, a customer, a community, a society, a government policy, or other leaders to knock on change is where I believe greatness and abundance should be measured.

With a vision of 1 million women entrepreneurs in our community by 2020 and a mission to give every women globally the opportunity to become and entrepreneur by choice, Inspiring Rare Birds has a clear impact model. The greater to number of confident, engaged and celebrated women entrepreneurs, the greater or economy thrives, thus the greater the world becomes. Women reinvest approximately 90% of their income back into their immediate community – creating jobs, investing in their immediate and extended families, building ecosystems of support, investing and allowing others to prosper.

Entrepreneurship results in influence and also flexibility, and this is one of the biggest reasons women decide this as a career path now.

…becoming an entrepreneur appears to provide a solution to the problem of maintaining a balance between work and family responsibilities. It not only allows women to have careers that are vital and challenging, but it also gives them the power to decide when, how, and where their work gets done. Note that it is not a decrease in hours worked that women seek, but rather the flexibility to accomplish goals on their own terms. – Source ABS 2015


Congratulations to the Start-Up Daily Top 50 Australian and New Zealand Women in Tech 2016, for your influence and your ability to make the change you want to see in your careers and for the careers of those you influence.

It is wonderful to see so many aspiring, emerging and established women on this years list and I am proud to be named 7 in this list of 50 of Australia and New Zealand line up.

To read the article click here and to read about our list of Australia’s 50 Influential Women Entrepreneurs click here




Jo Burston
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Jo Burston appointed to LaunchVic advisory board

IMG_1612 (1)Job Capital managing director Jo Burston has been appointed to the advisory board of LaunchVic, a $60 million body designed to accelerate startups, drive new ideas and create jobs in Victoria.


As part of a team of industry experts Jo Burston will work to strengthen and build the current operating environment of Victoria’s startup ecosystem.

Her appointment was announced by Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade Philip Dalidakis at the Above All Human Conference in Victoria this morning. Women make up 54 per cent of the team and, according to Mr Dalidakis, it is the first board in the innovation sector to include more women than men.

“This is an amazing team to steer LaunchVic and is one that has some extraordinary success stories and a wealth of experience in this space – there has never been a more exciting time to be a startup in Victoria,” said Mr Dalidakis.

“The calibre of women on this board should also, absolutely, dispel the myth that government and corporate boards cannot meet a 50/50 target,” he said.

Jo Burston, who is also the founder of the global entrepreneurial movement Inspiring Rare Birds, says she is “thrilled” to be involved with an organisation that represents such a progressive move.

“The Victorian Government has consciously chosen talent and board members that demonstrate value for these initiatives, with an exceptional view to equality and inclusion. To be on a board that has a 50/50 gender inclusion is a true act of modern leadership,” she says.

“I’m looking forward to outcomes that impact the SME, startup and innovation scene in Victoria and I’m very excited about the long term ripple effect socially and economically, and to see the State’s progression,” she says.

LaunchVic was unveiled late last year. It is designed to invest in core infrastructure, improve access to funds for local startups, advocate on Commonwealth legislation and regulation, and engage in startup events, campaigns, competitions and mentoring programs. The $60 million fund will be provided over four years.

Advisory board members

Ahmed Fahour, managing director and group CEO, Australia Post (Chair)
Elana Rubin, director, Mirvac Group (Deputy Chair)
Jo Burston, managing director, Job Capital and Inspiring Rare Birds
Tim Fawcett, director corporate and government affairs, Cisco Systems Australia
Dominique Fisher, executive chair and managing director, CareerLounge Pty Ltd
Con Frantzeskos, CEO, PENSO
Phillip Kingston, managing director, Trimantium Capital
Jane Martino, head of social segment, ANZ Bank
Rachael Neumann, managing director Australia, Eventbrite
Kee Wong, managing director, e-Centric Innovations
Susan Wu, head, Stripe Australia and New Zealand


HuffPost on why Rare Birds nailed branding

Via  |  By Andrea Beattie and Cathy Anderson


Jo Burston, Founder and CEO of Rare Birds

Jo Burston’s mission with her startup is to see one million women entrepreneurs in Australia by 2020 and to give every woman globally the opportunity to become an entrepreneur by choice.

She needed a name to encapsulate her vision and, with the help of friend and entrepreneur, Andrea Culligan, she nailed it.

“The brand had to be reflective of my personal view of women entrepreneurs — who I see as tenacious, relentless and have a hard-coded DNA to succeed and grow both themselves and their businesses,” she said.

“I also wanted it to pay homage to the pioneers and trailblazers as well as be inspiring for emerging entrepreneurs. I also looked at the global landscape, in that it should be authentic, black and white and no fluff.

“It also needed a dry humour around it, as I believe if I am not having fun with purpose, I won’t do it.

“The term ‘Rare Birds’ is a bit of cheek as well. ‘Rare’ because women entrepreneurs are still globally rare compared to the male numbers and “Birds” because of their beauty, uniqueness of colour and song and ability to soar.

“I was challenged in the early days by people who thought the word bird is offensive to women, the irony is that in almost all species, the male bird has the most beautiful plumage and puts on the biggest show.”

To read the full article, follow this link



Jo Burston
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