Advancing Women Hero Maria Calibo-Sales
Advancing Women Hero: Maria Calibo-Sales

From time to time we have the opportunity to share the stories of women that we admire. It’s our pleasure to share the story of Advancing Women Hero: Maria Calibo-Sales.

We know that the wisdom and experience that women bring to leadership and to business are essential for a flourishing and sustainable society. And, to quote the words of the 27th Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard, “I’m offended by the lack of women in positions of leadership and the way those that do make it are treated.”

An Advancing Women Hero is a woman who has forged ahead and smoothed the way for the women that come after her. It is our privilege to honour them and showcase their accomplishments. With thanks to our partner, Femeconomy for contributing these terrific stories.

by Jade Collins, co-founder Femeconomy

Take less, give more. There is enough for everybody.

Maria Calibo-Sales | Founder Calmar Corps

Maria Calibo-Sales, Founder Calmar Corps is a dynamo who seamlessly blends business, social purpose and collaboration to produce amazing impact. Using technology to create world-class efficiencies for non-profits and SMEs across 25 countries, Calmar Corps also employ and reskill those marginalised in the traditional employment market. Operating through a Zebra Founder lens, Maria has cultivated partnerships and collaborations to future-proof the world, and solve disadvantage. Her growth, governance and sustainability programs are recognised with over 30 national and international awards.


How has Calmar Corps business model fuelled success?

I started with the crazy idea that we would be profitable from day one, retrain women over 40 to lead technology transformation projects, and give 10% of our profits to a Capability with Conscience program.

Experts looked at our business model, and none of them believed it would work.

We invested foundation capital on upskilling our teams, instead of marketing. 100% of our business is through word-of-mouth, and we let our work do the talking. We are now a collective of multilingual tech transformation specialists operating across 6 continents ranging in age from 16 – 72!

Our DNA is smart and simple technology solutions. Women digest and utilise technology differently. Women find a way to explain IT simply, and effectively demonstrate it in day-to-day use. Imbedding operationally savvy and non-technical female tech project leads has been our successful Unique Service Proposition.


Why are you a Zebra, not a Unicorn?

For a start Unicorns are a myth, Zebras are the real deal. A community of Zebras is called a Dazzle! Their DNA is black (for Profit) and white (for Social Good). It’s a movement, which has been championed by a recent breed of Start Up founders, determined to successfully demonstrate an alternative mode of doing business. Zebra businesses are characterised by their Profit for Purpose ethos, embracing female founders, full inclusion and cultural diversity. The core mindset is trusted collaborations for shared prosperity, leveraging off each Zebra’s skill and service advantages.

It is a sustainable model that leaves no one behind.


Why is Calmar Corps a United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) partner?

Our business model and the way we operate meets 13 out of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), and we make conscious decisions to partner with global NGOs and fund programs that allow us to collaboratively meet all 17 UNSDGs.

In a previous role, we rolled out a program for a very specific UN charter, saw its impact cross-culturally over 6 continents, and how it shaped ethical business. The experience left a lasting impression on me and fuelled a vision for how the world should work. As a founder, I’ve carried that discipline: to have a robust environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework underpinning how we operated, how we behaved, and how we made ourselves accountable.


What makes them successful?

Have essential touchpoints to successful collaborations.

Our NGO partners are mutually aligned to the UNSDGs and must demonstrate robust operational sustainability frameworks. We sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that outlines our fundamental rules of engagement.

We do annual audits, physically visiting our NGO partners in their fields of operation. We actively invite commercial partners to join. These are unique experiences: seeing HeroRats clearing landmines, or planting 10,000 trees with rescued street kids in Cambodia, or installing clean drinking water SkyHydrants in remote Bhutan and the Philippines.

Each visit unlocks the human potential – equal collaborators that are elevated by the experiences, and each come away as dedicated advocates and powerful partners for change.

Our growth and impact have been fuelled by trusted partnerships. People helping people.

Profit for purpose works. We never sacrifice one for the other.

This article was originally published by Femeconomy


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