Kickstart Your Business, a Forming Circles Global initiative, is returning this year to offer one female-founded or female-led startup $5,000 in cash and the opportunity to be mentored by women who have succeeded in their industry.
The news follows an announcement made in July this year by Forming Circles that it had evolved into Forming Circles Global. The newly-structured organisation promised to invest $500,000 into women-led startups and small businesses over three years, with plans to provide two grants annually via its Kickstart Your Business initiative, as well as support Australian social enterprises working in developing countries.
Renata Cooper, who founded Forming Circles in 2011 before it became Forming Circles Global this year, said the organisation exists to support women driving value-based innovation and to nurture an ecosystem and network of future investors. Cooper, who is also mentor in the Telstra-based muru-D startup accelerator programme, has personally invested $2 million in over 100 causes and businesses, including startups Workible, iVvy and Good360. She is also a member of Scale Investors, through which she has invested in the US-based startups CloudPeeps and DayOne Response.
“The spirit of women-led entrepreneurship and its role in shaping the future of our economy is getting stronger every day. The energy is here and slowly, through an increasing number of success stories, women are fuelling the next phase of growth – in Australia and onto global markets,” Cooper said in July.
“Many creative ideas that influence growth and positively impact people’s lives get lost due to lack of and access to funding. FCG is making a conscious effort to empower women entrepreneurs with startups built on great ideas. In addition to financial support, we will give women valuable mentorship that helps their startups scale.”
The Kickstart Your Business initiative has been designed for Australian women regardless of what business stage they’re in – they could be starting a business, expanding or looking for an injection of funds. Cooper said the grant will give businesses “a small helping hand when they need it most”, while the mentoring programme will provide access to experienced entrepreneurs who can share knowledge and insights.
“The idea is not just to give money, but also add value by helping entrepreneurs with advice from experts who have been in the industry for a long time and have directly or indirectly, shaped the growth of other organisations,” Cooper said.
The mentoring programme will take place in Sydney on the 27th and will be led by five experienced women entrepreneurs including Fiona Anson, co-founder and director of Workible, a mobile and social recruitment app for the flexible workforce; Kim McGuinness, Managing Director of Mentor Central, who previously founded and sold Network Central to Women’s Agenda; Janine Garner, founder and CEO of Little Black Dress Group, an Australian women’s business network; Lee Ussher, co-founder Buzz Media Web, a social media strategy and consultancy firm; and Renata Cooper, founder and CEO of Forming Circles Global.
The mentors will discuss all major areas of running a scalable business and also address common challenges faced by entrepreneurs. Mentorship will be conducted as a group session; and the winner will also get access to a Coffee with the CEO one-on-one session with Renata Cooper on a separate day.
The winning applicant will have demonstrated how they can benefit from the grant, and how they will use it to grow their business.
Applications are now open and close on September 20th. The winner will be announced on October 14th.