NSW Treasurer Matt Kean wants to “level the playing field” for female founders when it comes to access to capital for their startups.
In a speech to the COSBOA National Small Business Summit today, Keen focussed on the role of women in business, their underrepresentation “in our trades, our offices and our boardrooms” and improving female workforce participation.
With Victoria already well ahead of NSW when it comes to initiatives for female founder, the NSW chief money said he’s “asked Treasury to look a range of initiatives designed to smash the barriers that female entrepreneurs face when looking to kick-start their businesses”.
Late last year, Keen announced the Women’s Economic Opportunities Review, chaired by Chief Executive Women CEO Sam Mostyn to look at ways to improve the women’s economic participation and security.
The Review spans workplace equity, the gender pay gap, improving leadership opportunities and the quality, affordability and accessibility of childcare for working parents.
“We want to improve the gender mix across industries, unleash a wave of female entrepreneurs and boost workplace flexibility,” Keen told the summit.
“If we close those gaps across pay, opportunity and participation, the legacy will be immense.”
Turning to venture capital for women, the Treasure said while the gender pay gap is frequently discussed, the gender investment gap is less well known, citing statistics familiar to the startup sector: globally female-led startups received around 3% of venture capital – Australia is at least ahead of that benchmark at 5%.
“While venture capital investment in Australia has grown, an Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman survey in 2021 of over 600 women-led businesses reveals 43% identify access to capital as a central barrier to growth,” Keen said.
“This is despite research which suggests female founded startups generating twice the return on average as start-ups founded by men.”
The NSW Treasurer is reportedly looking at putting $10 million towards addressing the issues.
That figure aligns with the $10 million the Victorian government committed 13 months ago to the an investment fund to back startups led by women.
LaunchVic’s Alice Anderson Fund is running over three years as a sidecar investment fund committing between $50,000 and $300,000 into between 40 and 60 startups led by women.
In December last year, it announced first five startups it had backed.
Keen’s address came on the same day equity crowdfunding platform Microwd announced it would focus on female-founded startups for investment.
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