This week’s Ambassador Feature is with Carmen Garcia, Community Corporate
2017 Silver winner of AusMumpreneur Rising Star award
Tell us about yourself and your business?
I’m 38 years old and first-generation migrant from the Philippines. I was raised by an amazing single mum, Aida who instilled strong values in me from a young age. She raised me to believe that the only way to measure my success in life is by how much I can make the world better than when I found it. I am happily married to Adam and we have two children, our daughter Ashlee (my mini me princess) who is 5 and son Cooper (the most beautiful soul I have ever known) who is 2. We live on 15 acres in Mylor, in the Adelaide Hills South Australia with our alpacas, sheep, goats, chickens and miniature Shetland pony, Scartlet.
I established my business, Community Corporate in 2013 as a sole trader and became a propriety limited company only in 2016 as we grew into an Australia-wide consultancy firm committed to building the capacity of the corporate, community and government sectors to respond to increasingly complex operating environments. We bring the corporate, community and government sectors together to build strategic alliances and solutions to address economic and social challenges. We pride ourselves on connecting organisations and companies with shared values and a strong commitment to excellence and social responsibility. We harness the expertise of the corporate sector to increase efficiencies in the operation of not-for-profit organisations so they can focus on what they do best – help others!
What does this jargon really mean? Well we are problem solvers, we help companies build corporate social responsibility strategies and partnerships, we position and profile company’s contribution to social impact and we activate a workforce driven by people who have the most important asset of any employee – the right attitude. Our diversity and inclusion employment programs are our biggest area of growth, we coach and build resilience among refugees and migrants, young people and women returning to work – to be job ready, we transform people’s lives one job at a time.
What was your inspiration for your business?
One part children, one part passion and 2 parts purpose. After having Ashlee, I wanted to build something that she could see was driven by purpose not profit. I wanted to know time away from my kids was meaningful and I was actively living my values and belief that ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’. I have always been a passionate advocate for young people and refugees. An active volunteer for women including international aid projects and spent time in the state government and private sector in the areas of training and employment – what I know to be the fundamental truth for the vast majority of people I have met from the women in the slums of Talibon in the Philippines, entrepreneurial men selling goods in the refugee camps in Turkey and the refugees in Australia having to start a new life – ‘at the core of human dignity is work’.
This was my inspiration for creating a niche business that brings together both the community and corporate sectors to achieve a profound social impact and build a strong and prosperous country on the power of purpose.
Did you have any experience in running a business or in this industry before?
I was formerly the CEO of a refugee youth organisation in SA and held several executive roles including Chief Strategy Officer at a large NGO in Queensland. My mum ran her own law practice but building my business was and still is one of the most challenging jobs I have ever had.
What’s your point of difference that makes your business special or unique?
Community Corporate puts purpose before profit. Don’t get me wrong we turn a very healthy profit now, but it didn’t start this way – I was driven to solve a problem – to help vulnerable people who wanted to work get that first opportunity and overcome inherent barriers. I believed in my vision and backed myself to prove my approach could work and I have done that – our results far exceed national averages of employment outcomes. Our work with refugees alone has an average of 90% of our participants securing work and 95% of them being retained for six months or more. Our focus has been to build the individual resilience of our participants for work – we back them so they back themselves. We have aligned ourselves with like-minded partners who are driven by results and are prepared to go above and beyond for each and every individual. It is so hard to articulate the way my team and I feel when someone who has been unable to even get an interview for sometimes 10 years gets a job through us – looks us in the eye and says thank you – we just know we are transforming lives and they will go on to do the same for others.
What have you learnt about yourself since becoming an entrepreneur?
That I really do have the courage, passion and sheer persistence to help change the world. I believe our most precious resource is not in the ground but it is the people who walk upon it.
I am confident every problem can be solved, it may take time, and many attempts but it can be done. I have learnt it is about perspective. Taking the time to look at a problem from all angles, seeking input and opinion from others and creating the bigger picture helps to map a way through – I now feel the only problem I can’t solve is a secret!
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?
I took on too much work wanting to grow quickly, and found myself overwhelmed – I couldn’t ask for help.
Seeking help and breaking down work into manageable steps became such a valuable skill. I took the time to develop SMART plans to inform my decision making. When you think about the 50 things you need to do it seems impossible but when you just need to do step one and then move to step two it becomes easier. I used this approach to lose my baby weight, one kilo at a time and now I’m over 25kgs lighter.
What lessons have your business taught you about life?
It’s so important to love what you do, don’t be afraid to ask for help and be present in the moment. When you are at home with the kids be mum and put away devices, when you are at work be the mumpreneur and nail it and finally, remember to self-service – and I don’t mean get enough sleep, fill up your tank whether it’s an indulgent calorie filled dessert, those new designer shoes, or a good book– self-service is about being happy, strong and rewarding yourself for being an amazing mumpreneur!
If you could go back to when you were starting your business and give your younger self some advice what would you tell her?
Stop wasting time and outsource your weaknesses! We are not good at everything so my best advice is to focus time and energy on what you do well and bring in the experts to help with the other stuff ie #lovemybookkeeper!
What’s next for your business?
We are still so new and I feel as though I am just getting started. For me my challenge is to ‘funnel and focus’ our offerings, we do so much and rather than be good at many things my goal for this year is to be the best at one thing – to have the highest conversion rate of employment programs for refugees and migrants in Australia. Just a little goal – but we are well on the way! Watch this space!
If you could change the world, and money was no object, what would you do?
This is a very difficult question for a social entrepreneur like me – but the best thing I could do is ensure 100% of girls around the world received a quality education, so many still don’t get to go to school. Growing up poor myself, my mum always said ‘education was the one thing no one can ever take away from you’ if all young women were armed with a quality education – the world would be a better place for all of us to enjoy!
To learn more about Carmen and Community Corporate, please visit
Facebook page link: www.facebook.com/CommunityCorporate
NOMINATIONS ARE OPEN 2018 AUSMUMPRENEUR AWARDS!
Nominations for 2018 AusMumpreneur Awards are now open! Nominate your business or a business you love today. Click here to nominate.