Female entrepreneurs often face additional challenges to raise capital and grow business in comparison to their male counterparts. The Boosting Female Founders Initiative, announced as part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Women’s Economic Security Statement in 2018, is an attempt to rectify that imbalance.
The $54 million initiative helps scale and grow startups that are majority owned and led by Australian women. The initiative provides matched funding grants of up to $480,000 for majority women-owned startups to help them scale into national and international markets.
Women who are regional, rural and remote founders; own an Indigenous startup; humanitarian migrant and refugee founders; and founders with a disability can also access more generous matched funding arrangements.
“We need to increase the size and diversity of Australia’s startup ecosystem to capitalise on the social and economic benefits that entrepreneurship provides to our economy,” says Janean Richards, the Head of the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources’ Science and Commercialisation division.
“Many successful Australian startups are owned and led by women entrepreneurs. The Boosting Female Founders Initiative recognises that we need to increase their visibility to demonstrate to investors that they should increase investment in their businesses.
“The grant funding will contribute to changing the conversation for women entrepreneurs seeking external investment. As it is equity free, the grant funding can improve the terms or size of private sector investments women can access to scale their businesses.”
SurePact CEO and Founder Megan Avard is one of 51 successful recipients who were awarded in the first round of the grant.
“The grant process is competitive,” Janean says. “An independent committee of women business leaders, who all bring strong backgrounds in either running or supporting startups, assess the applications.
“Companies awarded Boosting Female Founders Grant funding, including SurePact, can have confidence that their business and their business model has been reviewed by a panel of experts and ranked competitively amongst a large number of their peers.
“Grantees use their access to this finance to pursue additional private investment that is critical to scale their businesses into national and international markets.”
That’s exactly what SurePact has done since being awarded the grant, with its recent capital injection from Future Now Capital.
Fittingly, this grant will be put towards developing SurePact’s Grant Management System, which will allow grant recipients and funding bodies to work together in one platform to collaborate, communicate and manage all lifecycle stages of a grant.
This new module will ensure that funds that are allocated to organisations – whether they be corporate, government or not-for-profit – are tracked with complete transparency and probity.
The Boosting Female Founders Grant will support this SurePact project over the next 24 months.
“We are very excited to see how SurePact and all of the other first round grant recipients are achieving the goals that they set out in their grant applications,” Janean says. ”It will be great to see SurePact ramp up their solution and rollout nationally from their regional location.”
As well as funding, Janean says the Boosting Female Founders Initiative now provides mentoring for female entrepreneurs.
“We are seeing a good uptake under the Initiative’s new mentoring element, where expert mentoring and advice is offered to eligible applicants,” she says. “This mentoring service is meeting the needs of women entrepreneurs by giving them an additional helping hand with an aspect of their business development and building their support networks.
“We have seen a fantastic response to the Initiative from all across Australia, particularly in regional locations. Before launching the Initiative, we undertook a national consultation in over 20 locations, a majority of which were in regional cities or centres. This influenced the program design, which included provision of more generous matched funding conditions for founders in regional, remote or rural locations.
“These elements have led to the strong interest in the Initiative from Australia’s regional based startups.”