The Greens have announced a policy to support women-led businesses, generating more employment opportunities for women and boosting economic growth.
Businesses with female founders and executive leadership employ, on average, six times as many women as other businesses, and typically have strong parental leave and flexible working arrangements. But women-led businesses, particularly in regional areas, often find it difficult to secure finance, despite the calibre of staff or the quality of their product or service.
The Greens will help these businesses to grow and provide employment opportunities for more women by:
Establishing a micro-financing facility
The Greens will establish a $10 million micro-financing facility to provide low-and no-interest loans up to $10,000 to women-led businesses in regional areas who struggle to access traditional finance.
The micro-financing scheme would also offer financial training to borrowers, and refer businesses to the Boosting Female Founders Initiative program for mentoring and support.
Legislating procurement policies
The Greens will legislate to require government agencies to spend a minimum of 3% of their annual procurement budget with women-led businesses.
Setting minimum procurement targets for women-led businesses benefits everyone in the supply chain and helps women-led businesses to grow.
Quotes attributable to Greens deputy leader and spokesperson on women Senator Larissa Waters:
“Women deserve support to harness their creative and innovative potential, and microfinance loans fit the bill.
“Supporting women-led businesses to get off the ground will generate more employment opportunities for Australian women and boost the economy. It will also start to reduce the structural inequities that have hindered women’s economic independence for generations.
“Research tells us that businesses owned and operated by women employ up to six times as many women as other businesses and typically have better parental leave and more flexible working arrangements.
“For many women, starting their own business is often the only means they have of generating their own income, with prohibitive childcare costs and most employers still not offering sufficiently flexible work arrangements.
“Running a small business can be hard for anyone, but women-led businesses can find it particularly tough given they typically have less access to capital and often face discriminatory attitudes from lenders.
“It’s been a grim eight years for women under this 1950s government, compounded further by the pandemic which women bore the brunt of. Policies like this can really help.”
Quotes attributable to Alanna Bastin-Byrne, Director of Femeconomy:
“This is not a zero sum game - when more women work, economies grow.
“Australia has a lot of catching up to do in closing the gender pay gap. It is wonderful the Greens recognise that women owned businesses have a role to play in increasing women’s economic security and workforce participation.
“Women-owned businesses represent women from all walks of life, allowing women to use their education, skills and training, and develop flexible working models around caring responsibilities. Practical policies that support these businesses are vital to closing the gender pay gap.
“Women owned businesses make up 34.8% of Australian businesses, but access less than 1 per cent of the global procurement market. This gap presents an opportunity to create a social and economic impact.
“We’ve seen the success of gender equality procurement policies in the US, and the Indigenous Procurement Policy in Australia. These policies will work to grow Australia’s economy and advance equality.”
Quotes attributable to Rebel Black, CEO of The Rural Woman:
“Rural women-led enterprises face additional challenges of geographical isolation, a lack of access to support services and networks, and structural roadblocks when trying to access finance.
“In some remote communities there are often no banks at all, and the ones that do exist often have extremely conservative lending policies.
“Our research has identified that for women-led businesses in rural areas a loan of $10,000 or less would help them make significant progress, either to start a business or to scale up – whether that’s being able to employ an extra person, buy additional stock or run marketing campaigns.”