Women entrepreneurs in Australia * the big picture in 2012

Women entrepreneurs in Australia:
The state of play in 2012
Mary Barrett
University of Wollongong
[email protected]
Three basic questions
• Where does Australia rank in female
entrepreneurship compared with other
developed economies?
• What are the differences and
similarities between male and
female entrepreneurs in Australia?
• What initiatives are being pursued in Australia to promote
women’s entrepreneurship?
Australian women’s entrepreneurship
in comparative perspective
• GEM (measures entrepreneurial activity in > 80 countries).
• Main indicator is Total Early-Stage Entrepreneurial Activity rate
(TEA), ie proportion of a country’s adult population that is engaged
in entrepreneurship.
• GEM 2011 data show Australia is second only
to U.S. in proportion of women in TEA.
• In 2010, Australia had highest proportion
of women in TEA (7.8%), same proportion
as for men. Australia he only developed
country with this result.
• High rate of employee entrepreneurial
• activity (EEA) in Australia.
Reasons for Australian women’s high
involvement in entrepreneurship
• Combination of skills and opportunities
• About 40% of Australian women identify
opportunities and believe they have necessary
• Consistently favourable media
attention  positive role
Male and female entrepreneurs in
Australia differ in their aspirations
• Job growth: 42% of men but only 24% of
women want to grow their business to > 5
employees in next 5 years.
• Internationalisation: 13.7%
of men but only 6% of women
want to have a major share
of their customers from
international trade.
Gender differences in Australian
• Industries where businesses started:
– Men: finance, mining, industry, manufacturing
– Women: service industries
• Women underrepresented in high growth
• Networks: more used by men
• Sources of advice:
– Men: work colleagues, professionals
– Women: family members
Government information sources for
business planning
From the Australian Statistician
Know your market
Locate potential clients
Target promotions
Assess site location
Grow your business
Support your business case
Improve your marketing strategy
Estimate your market share
ABS has information on...
Contact the ABS for more information
Government information sources
• In addition to advice and data, the government
provides a number of programs which offer valuable
services and resources at low cost. Examples include:
– training programs,
– consulting services,
– mentorship programs,
– opportunities to attend
trade fairs abroad
– introductions to potential
suppliers, partners and
Government programs to promote
• Workshops, training seminars and courses on
international trade
• Designated certifications
• Trade offices or commissions
• Tools and guides
Government business development offices
• provide help with assessing, planning and
implementing solutions that correspond to the
current development stage of individual
• Tools are also available, eg
– business planning,
– self-assessment tests for potential entrepreneurs
– consultation with business service professionals.
• Training services range from different types of
financing to information about venture capital
services and how to approach them.
NFP initiatives to assist women to
become entrepreneurs, eg:
Springboard Enterprises
• Has created 1000s of jobs, generated $US5 billion in
• Connects women with entrepreneurs, investors and
industry experts
• Currently operates in US and Israel
• Offers investor forums where women pitch to potential
• Founded because of statistics
worldwide showing 95% of VC $$$
goes to men.
Australian Women Chamber of
Commerce and Industry (AWCCI)
Open to women who own and operate their own businesses
Surveys members to understand women entrepreneurs’
problems. Findings in 2012 include:
• 78% of the women surveyed left employment at a middle
or upper management level to start their business.
• A third of respondents (33%) employ staff, but only 27% of
respondents have an annual turnover of more than
• 42% of respondents started their business with less than
$5000, but 51% now require capital in order to grow their
Comments from AWCCI chief
• “Women don’t grow [their businesses] as fast because they are more
conservative, but have a higher ROI because they don’t spend as much.”
• “However, they still need access to capital, access to markets and
business capacity, and skills building to expand and grow.”
• “Women often struggle to secure capital because venture capitalists and
angel investors tend to overlook service industries. Home-based business
are also perceived as less successful.”
• “We also need to educate women into making sure they do have the
information and are prepared when they go to lenders so they don’t get
knocked back.”
• “They don’t tend to sell themselves as well as men do.”
• “The AWCCI will [help] to ensure women are included in business
programs and policy decision-making, and are able to procure contracts
to guarantee revenue growth.”
Organisations created by women
entrepreneurs themselves
For example: Women as entrepreneurs
Access Members only special offers
Get connected to other Members and business experts both offline
and online
Opportunity to purchase tickets to Members only networking
events and seminars (read testimonials & check out some photos)
Free inclusion and promotion of the business through the Women
as Entrepreneurs Biz Directory of female owned businesses
Promotion of business through social media channels
Members can contribute to the content of the website and be
profiled/interviewed/promoted through the website, social media
channels and e-newsletter
Organisations for women
entrepreneurs affiliated with
international organisations
Women Chiefs of Enterprise International (WCEI)
• national and international connections;
• an online community;
• state events and national conferences; and
• numerous learning and leadership development
• WCEI is a member of FCEM and NEWWW, and
collaborates with UnitedSuccess.
Bank initiatives, eg Westpac’s Women
in Business Survey of 1,100 women
entrepreneurs in Australia
• Most Australian women (51%) take a pay cut when
they start their business
• Most are happy to do so, but often struggle to stay
• 62% who took a pay cut felt it was worth it, while 77%
would start their business again if they had the choice
to remain in the corporate world or become an
Westpac survey results (continued)
• Those aged 30-39 have the highest propensity to
leave corporate life to start businesses.
• More than 60% of respondents cited
independence and flexibility as the main reasons
for women starting their own business.
• Retail is the most popular industry among
Australian businesswomen, (34% of
respondents), followed by health and hospitality
(10% and 6% respectively).
Women and high-tech based
entrepreneurship in Australia
• Neglected policy area
• Comparative absence of women
entrepreneurs in high-tech industries may
stem from ‘big infrastructure’ focus of
Australian high growth industries
• Separatist networking/entrepreneurship
agendas are a problem for women
Illawarra initiative: iAaccelerate
• Wollongong is the central city of the Illawarra region, 80 km south
of Sydney.
• Current industry base is manufacturing and resources (steel, coal,
iron ore) and the U. of Wollongong.
• 28 May 2012: Launch of the StartPad ideas incubator
– focuses on entrepreneurship and fast growth businesses.
– Modeled on successful reinvention of Waterloo, Canada
– joint initiative between UoW, Wollongong City Council,
NSW Trade & Investment, Enterprise Connect, Regional
Development of Australia , Illawarra local business and
– ‘Deliberate gender inclusion’
– Build ‘Silicon beach’ .
Microcredit schemes
• “This program is appropriate for women already
operating a micro business, looking to transition a
‘hobby’ into a business or simply has an idea that
she would like some support to develop.”
• Source: Extract from website advertisement for
Equality Rights Alliance, Canberra). See
• Cf Mohammed Yunus’ microcredit schemes
which began in 1976.
Indigenous women’s
• Women and the indigenous
art industry

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