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4 Strategies for Women Entrepreneurs To Boost Funding Success

4 Strategies for Women Entrepreneurs To Boost Funding Success

Securing funding for a business is rarely an easy feat at the best of times. When you’re a female founder, it can be a significant hurdle — we’ve covered this before and it is well-documented by countless studies from reputable associations. Besides broadening your funding horizons, how else can you tackle this obstacle?

When we zoom out beyond the ‘female tax’, there are many more factors that come into play when it comes to securing funding: 

  1. A solid business plan is crucial to show the viability of your business and of you as a founder.
  2. A compelling storytelling ability helps you back your business plan up by building emotional connection. 
  3. Having the right network means you can get your pitch in front of the right audience, and have strong support systems to help you navigate your entrepreneurial journey. 
  4. Finally, self-development initiatives can help you pitch confidently to potential investors and build the resilience needed to overcome challenges.

In this article, we dive into these initiatives to help you overcome funding gaps as a female entrepreneur.

1. How to create a solid business plan that wins over investors

Your business plan is the first step to showing investors that you are serious and knowledgeable and that your business has a clear path to profitability.

Your business plan needs to clearly and concisely:

  • Articulate your business idea; the problem you are solving and your unique value proposition that differentiates your business from competitors. Back up your case with verified facts and figures to objectively show the size of the opportunity you are leveraging.
  • Show an understanding of your target market and how you are meeting their needs. For example, WhatsApp’s key insight was that people in emerging markets faced barriers in communication technology, one of which was that they primarily had low-end smartphones with limited processing power and storage capacity. Traditional messaging apps were often too resource-intensive and sometimes totally incompatible with these devices. WhatsApp identified the need for a lightweight, efficient, and optimised messaging platform and were able to demonstrate this to Sequoia Capital.
  • Explain your scalable business model and how it generates sustainable revenue, while providing evidence of traction and progress to showcase the viability of your startup.
  • Present a clear financial plan with revenue, expenses and profit margin projections for the next 3-5 years It’s important that figures are realistic; Mark Cuban, a well-known entrepreneur and investor, advises founders to “make sure your numbers are conservative and defensible.”
  • Outline your marketing and sales strategy, including pricing, customer reach, and ongoing sales efforts.
  • Detail day-to-day operations and key processes, as well as your team’s strengths and capabilities. Highlight key members and their qualifications and achievements to emphasise the ability of your team to deliver on its goals.
  • Clearly state your funding requirements, with amounts needed, allocation and the expected return on investment. For example, Dropbox’s business plan broke down how it would use its funding of $1.2 million into new hires, product development, marketing and operational expenses.
  • Explain your exit strategy and how it provides a return on investment. For example, Google Ventures invested in Uber because they saw the potential for a highly valuable exit through an IPO; Uber’s IPO in 2019 was the largest IPO of the year, raising $8.1 billion. 

According to Sequoia Capital, a good business plan should be no more than 10 slides, and leverage storytelling techniques to engage and leave a lasting impression on investors — which brings us to our 2nd tip!

2. How to master the art of storytelling 

Have you heard of the saying that people buy you and not your products? Investors often emphasise this, recognising that success goes beyond a good idea; it requires a skilled and committed founder/team capable of executing and overcoming the challenges that come with building a business. 

So how do you share your founder story in a compelling way?

  • Be authentic and honest, sharing why you first started your business and any challenges or failures experienced along the way. For example, Airbnb’s founders shared personal experience of struggling with rent and how they turned it into an opportunity for themselves and others.
  • Practise articulating your story. Refine the words and phrases you need to perfectly explain who you are, the purpose of your business, key metrics and goals.
  • Use anecdotes and analogies to make your business more relatable and create an emotional connection. Dropbox likened its app to a “magic pocket”, accessible anytime and anywhere, while Stripe aimed to increase “the GDP of the internet”, emphasising ambitious goals.
  • Bring passion and pride into it. This helps enhance the emotional resonance while also showing that you back yourself.

By telling a compelling founder story, you show investors that you not only have expertise and a viable business plan, but you also have the passion and the drive to succeed.

3. Why networking matters to overcome the funding gap

Through networking, you can gain access to valuable resources, insights and connections. You might meet significant mentors who can share their experiences and even introduce you to potential investors or funding sources. Or, you might meet other female founders to share the entrepreneurial journey with and problem-solve similar challenges.

Networking also presents opportunities for you to build your personal brand and stand out to potential investors. At its simplest, networking is a chance for you to meet more people and amplify your reach. If you approach it strategically, networking events can be a platform to share your story, achievements and insights, establishing yourself as an expert in your field. 

To find networking events, check out your area’s Chamber of Business or Commerce as they seek to facilitate new connections between members. Consider joining our free Disco community too where we hold regular masterclasses and virtual and in-person events for Lift Women members to connect!

4. How to build self-confidence 

Backing yourself and having a winning attitude is essential to increasing your chances of securing funding as it helps improve your pitches and presentations. When you are confident, it shows in your body language, voice and overall presence. You project an air of authority and credibility, which captures the attention of your potential investors. 

Confidence enables you to communicate your ideas and business proposition clearly and effectively. You speak with conviction, articulating your points with confidence and passion. All of this helps persuade your potential investors into funding your business idea! 

Having self-confidence also builds the resilience needed to endure the entrepreneurial journey, especially when facing potential investors who may not immediately recognise the value of your business. With confidence, you’ll be able to bounce back from setbacks, adapt to changing circumstances and remain focused on your long-term goals.

So how can you work on your self-confidence? ​​You can be as targeted as attending workshops focused on mindset training and public speaking or you can simply engage in activities that put you outside your comfort zone like learning a new language or a new sport.

As a female-focused crowdfunding platform, Lift Women is passionate about helping female entrepreneurs achieve their business dreams. In addition to making funding accessible to all women, we share exclusive resources and support — just like this article — to help female entrepreneurs elevate their businesses to new heights. If you’d like to learn more about how to get funding for your business and see how Lift Women can help, we offer free 30-minute strategy calls so book yours today!

Empowering Business Insights: Lessons and Quotes from 6 Strong Women

Empowering Business Insights: 6 Strong Women Quotes and Lessons

Entrepreneurship is a challenging yet transformative journey that countless others have embarked on before us, from whom we can learn.  Here in Australia, we are especially fortunate to have many formidable women in business to be inspired by. Below are our 6 favourite lessons encapsulated by direct quotes from 6 female leaders.

Back yourself 

In entrepreneurship, it’s vital to have unwavering confidence in your abilities so you can make bold decisions and take calculated risks.

Pip Marlow is a notable figure in the Australian tech industry, known for her leadership roles at Microsoft Australia, Suncorp Group and Salesforce.

In an interview with The Suite Collective, Pip said: “It’s about having that sense of self-belief and declaring my aspirations, while still being authentic and humble.” 

The most valuable part of this first of 6 strong women quotes is how truly backing yourself is being able to explicitly and proudly share your goals with others. Sharing is also beneficial as it can create a sense of accountability and rally support.

So when was the last time you shared your aspirations to the world? It could be face-to-face with friends and family or even through a social media or blog post! 

Customer service is key

In an increasingly competitive business landscape, you can gain the upper hand through exceptional customer service to build brand love. This is an effective way to retain existing customers and attract new ones to generate sustainable growth.

On customer service, the co-founder of Boost Juice, Janine Allis, said in an interview with SmartCompany that the biggest thing people need to focus on is the staff interacting with the customers…You should constantly have an open dialogue and make sure it’s easy for them.” 

For your own business, how are you focussing on your customers? Do you have a SLA or service-level agreement in place that guides your team on how often and how you respond to customers? It’s important that you have one so you can uphold a high-level of service.

Own your sh*t

In traditional employment, you might be able to lean on your managers or a HR team for decision-making and problem-solving. When you go out on your own, your success ultimately lies in your hands. Being able to take personal responsibility for your actions and outcomes is a fundamental aspect of entrepreneurship. Instead of this being daunting, we can instead frame it to be empowering!

Naomi Simson is the founder of RedBalloon. She is renowned for her ability to inspire authenticity and innovation in business, building successful ventures and empowering others to do the same. 

On her blog, Naomi says, “If it is meant to be, then it’s up to me” — this is such a simple but powerful statement that captures what having a sense of responsibility and agency in your business (and in your life) means.  

When times get tough, the tough get going!

Entrepreneurship is a test of resilience because there will undoubtedly be obstacles. Rather than approaching them with a ‘why me?’ attitude, accepting that challenges are part of it — and that every entrepreneur goes through them — helps you embrace them and emerge stronger on the other side. 

“Know it’s hard for absolutely everyone…Realising that the struggle is a normal part of the process for every single person can be very empowering.” – says Melanie Perkins, the co-founder of Canva, in a SmartCompany article.

Make sure it’s not all business

Ultimately, your business is only one part of your life. It is essential to maintain a well-rounded perspective and ensure that your other passions and priorities are not neglected along your entrepreneurial journey.

Gail Kelly is a very respected former CEO of Westpac Banking Corporation, widely recognised for her achievements in the banking industry, her inclusive leadership style and her commitment to making a positive impact. 

Even with all her accolades and responsibilities, Gail Kelly once said in her 2014 speech at St George Bank Foundation launch, You need to make sure you live a whole life, which means be really clear on the priorities in your life and invest in them all the way.” 

Looking at your calendar for the next fortnight, are you sufficiently investing in your relationships, your health and your hobbies? 

Lift each other up

Collaboration over competition — it’s often quoted and for good reason. Uplifting and supporting one another is key to fostering a thriving business community that fuels innovation and collective success.

In a Q&A with Women In Digital, the founder and former CEO of Collective Hub, Lisa Messenger said, “I am a strong believer that all of us – no matter our gender, race, industry or geographic location should support each other and lift one another higher. I am all about reciprocity, abundance and collaboration. There is enough room for everyone.” 

More than just strong women quotes

At Lift Women, we also wholeheartedly believe in “reciprocity, abundance and collaboration” and we actively work to foster all three. Some of the ways we lift all women in business up are:

  • making funding accessible for all women through our zero-cost crowdfunding platform
  • powering a circular funding ecosystem for female-led businesses through our membership offering, Lift Angels™
  • creating a free Disco community that’s full of synergistic networking and learning opportunities 
  • sharing free valuable resources about crowdfunding and business on our blog

If you would like to join in supporting your fellow female entrepreneurs, consider backing a project, becoming a Lift Angels™ member or part of our free Disco community or simply sharing a Lift Women article that you find interesting! 

Additionally, if you are looking to launch your own crowdfunding campaign on the Lift Women platform, we also offer free 30-minute consultations to help you find clarity and strategy to maximise your chances of achieving a fully-funded project. 

Here’s to finding inspiration through these strong women quotes as well as striving to be strong women ourselves!

Balancing Business and Babies – with Rosie Dumbrell, founder of Lenny Rose Active, and 4 x Mum

Balancing Business and Babies – with Rosie Dumbrell, founder of Lenny Rose Active, and 4 x Mum

If there’s anyone who can relate to the business (or work) and babies juggle, I think I certainly can! Being a bit of a later starter to my motherhood journey, I was lucky enough to be able to grow 4 humans across a 5 year period (my eldest turned 5 just 2 weeks before my 4th baby was born, all singleton pregnancies!). At the same time, I was simultaneously growing my first business, a Yoga and Pilates studio, and then sold this business to start my now current start-up – Lenny Rose Active. Starting a new business whilst navigating morning sickness, recovery from birth, breastfeeding, toddler tantrums, sleepless nights certainly has its challenges – but also affords a lot of flexibility and autonomy I wouldn’t otherwise have. I do have to point out though, I think there would be a lot less pregnancies and births if it wasn’t up to the female population to bear it all. Just saying!

So how does one balance the demands of growing a start-up business, family, and still manage to function ? ( if you had asked me 6 hours ago, when my now 7 year old was refusing to get in the car, because he couldn’t find his pokemon cards, I would have said maybe you don’t ;0)

But seriously – a family can be all consuming, a start-up (or any phase of business) can be all consuming, so how do you navigate both?

For me personally, motherhood has been a very steep learning and growth curve – just as has starting new businesses – full of growing pains, highs and lows and everything in between. It has forced me to really take a good hard look at what is important to me, what I value most, what I can and need to let go of, and where I am most valuable to my family and business in spending my time. It has forced me to be very purposeful and deliberate, about the split of time between family and business, and to do my best to create strong boundaries between the two, so each is given the fair go it deserves.

When going through my values (Dr Demartini’s site has a great tool you can access for free) I realised that family AND having an impact/being of service are both high on my values list, and that despite cultural conditioning telling me I should not work with so many young children, that I should spend all of my time mothering, I had to dig deep and listen to where the suggestion, motivation and resistance and willingness were coming from. My parents valued working hard, working until you grind yourself to a halt; my husband’s family were the same, but the women worked hard in the non paid parenting role, rather than going out into the workforce. So it was a real tug of war for me on what I should be doing, having the luxury to choose, might I add – which is not something everyone has. At the end of the day, I have done the work to understand what is important to me, and how I best show up in life – and it is in balancing the two, at least for the moment.

Time – the golden bullet 

Something else I have had to work very hard at is “taking up space” in my own life, and making space for my own dreams and goals, alongside being a very active and involved mother.

This for me means working on a “part-time” basis (2 full days and 1-2 ½ days) per week, but then working early mornings and late evenings whilst the kids sleep, and and most weekends getting up at 4 am on a Saturday/Sunday to get close to a full day of work in by 9am. It means not a lot of time for socialising, though connection is also important so I have started to create more of a business network which has been very helpful – through Lift Women, SBE, Launch Vic and Scale – all amazing support networks.

I have also had to work very hard on remembering that I am a human BEING, not a human DOING, and that I can only control what I can control. I can’t control if my kids or I get sick and need a day off school or work, but I can control how I manage it (rest, work from bed, get a grandma around to help if needed, should it not be anything too nasty or contagious, of course!). I can shift things around and be flexible to honour my family’s needs – just as my family needs to be flexible at times about how my work fits in and the weeks where the balance is tipped in the other direction.

School holidays are always a huge challenge, as I have a nanny on the days I work, but don’t like to leave all 4 kids with one person regularly or for long – so I tend to try to organise school holiday programs, play dates, extra time with our amazing parents (grandparents) and also for some of the time adjust my work hours to be 3-4 hours in the morning very early before the family wakes, or the end of the day, so I can enjoy some extra quality time with my tribe. This isn’t sustainable all year round, but works for me to hold my high value of quality time with my family AND working hard in a business where I want to positively impact as many women as possible.

Self compassion

This is a huge one I have worked on, and continue to work on in the context of parenting, and in work. When we stuff up, learn from the mistake, and take a huge dose of self compassion. Beating ourselves up isn’t helpful (and sure isn’t the message I want to send to my kids)!

Asking for more help – building the village

This is something I am getting better at – getting a tribe around me both at home and in my business – you can’t do it all alone, and it is certainly not weak to ask for help. Emma Isaacs, founder of Business Chicks and mother of 6 has drummed this into me and I am glad for it. 

At home, I regularly ask my husband to step up more, his family to help out more with the kids, and have a few casual babysitters on my book to be able to call on when I need an extra pair of hands. Being a martyr ends up working for noone – so figure out how to cost effectively get support – it could be carpooling with friends so you have less taxi-ing around to do, involving family more, getting a cleaner, or relaxing your standards (i.e. how often you do the washing!) a little whilst you are in the thick of a growth period in your family or business.

Your business, and your family benefit from getting the best version of you – so surround yourself with the supports that you need to make this happen, however that looks for you.

In my business – I have an affordable (remote) VA who takes care of our customer service and email + social media marketing.

Exercise 

It may sound counterintuitive as its an ‘extra’ thing to build into an already crammed out schedule – but moving my body each day is a non-negotiable (or at least 5-6 days a week). Sometimes this is getting to the gym – other times it is taking a call that I can manage with video off and walking for the 30-60 minute meeting. Sometimes it’s doing yoga whilst my kids jump all over me or on a Friday night while they enjoy a movie. But I make it happen, its a habit and a priority, because its integral to feeling good and my psychological and emotional wellbeing too.

Managing your nervous system

This is probably one of the key things I have introduced and understood more fully over the last couple of years. As a mum, you are sleep deprived, overstimulated by noise, light, touch, requests, lack of personal space – and much more. In business, its up and down, never a smooth ride, so we are operating on constant “fight or flight’ mode. It’s not until I understood polyvagal theory, and how the nervous system works and requires nourishment, that I was able to make headway into feeling calmer, more grounded and less reactive to both work and home life stresses. Everyone will have a different take on what works for them – but for me – regular exercise, breathing exercises (like Wim Hoff, and 5 breath cycles per minute / slow paced breathing exercise) Yoga, and meditation such as Irest, are all in my black book. A regular walk with a friend (albeit at 6 am on a Friday each week) to talk about the ups and downs of parenting and business, a regular check in with a psychologist once a month – I work hard on having my chaotic life happen around me without being too chaotic on the inside. But it does take commitment, experimenting with what works for you, and a good understanding of your “why.” Mine is being a responsive, not reactive parent (where possible!) and an agile and growing business that helps me and my family to thrive. I hope you can find your why on taking better care of yourself amongst the juggle, too.

You can find a few more motherhood tips over on my podcast – Mama Matters, and find out more about Lenny Rose Active here.

Australian grants for female-led businesses and women entrepreneurs

Australian grants for female-led businesses and women entrepreneurs

What makes gov grants, and grants in general, an attractive funding option is that you don’t have to pay the money back and it doesn’t require you to give up any equity in your business.

Australia has a strong commitment to supporting small businesses, with many federal and state-level gov grants and private sector startup business grants available to help you start or scale your business.

Whether it’s funding, advice or support you’re after, there is an Australian grant for you!

Australian gov grants

There are national-level business grants as well as those offered by individual states and territories. These grants may be tailored according to industry, business structure, support type and business type. Or, they may be generally available to any business seeking resources to support operations and expansions.

For a one-stop shop, business.gov.au is a whole-of-government website that acts as a single point of information for Australian grants and businesses. 

Each Australian state government has its own department or office dedicated to supporting business. It’s worth bookmarking your State or Territory’s business and grants page so you can stay abreast of new programs and dates. 

For more on Australian gov grants, read our guides:

Private-sector grants in Australia

There are also business grants offered by the private sector through business incubators and accelerators, which are typically specific to a particular business stage or industry.

Many business accelerators and incubators also offer non-financial resources and support like mentorship and access to networks. 

In our guide, How To Find A Startup Business Grant in Australia, we curated a list of notable business accelerators and incubators to keep an eye on.

Other ways besides gov grants to fund your business

In addition to Australian grants to start or scale your business, you can also raise money or access support through rewards-based crowdfunding, venture capital funding and small business loans. 

In our guide, How To Get Funding For Your Business, we outline how each of the above 3 options work with pros and cons so you can choose the best method for your business.

As a female-focused crowdfunding platform, Lift Women is passionate about helping female entrepreneurs achieve their business goals. With our exclusive resources and support, you can take the first step towards securing the funding you need to take your business to the next level. 

If you’d like to learn more about using Australian grants to start or scale your business and see how Lift Women can help, we offer free 30-minute strategy calls so book yours today.

How To Find A Startup Business Grant In Australia

Start Up Business Grants in Australia

Australia has a strong commitment to supporting small businesses, with many government and private sector startup business grants available to assist you with funding, advice and support. We’ve previously rounded up some of the top small business grants for women-owned businesses but in this article, we’ll share the ways you can stay on top of things yourself. 

Look for national-level startup business grants by checking the Australian Government’s business.gov.au hub

For a one-stop shop, business.gov.au is a whole-of-government website that acts as a single point of information for Australian businesses. It’s been active and regularly updated for 20 years and so is a valuable resource for any small business owners who are interested in scaling up their business or looking for funding to start a business.

There are 2 hubs that you should bookmark:

  1. The Grants & Programs Finder is where you can search for the grant or program that best suits your industry, business structure, support type and business type. 
  2. GrantConnect is the centralised location for Australian Government grants. You can find current Grant Opportunities, organised by sector, as well as be notified of future Forecast Opportunities.

Through these hubs, you will locate nationally-available grants created by the Federal Government like the Boosting Female Founders Initiative and Entrepreneurs’ Programme.

There are also public-private or private funds and programs to keep an eye out for. For example, the Australian Business Growth Fund is a public-private partnership between the Federal Government and 6 leading banks with an initial capital of $450 million to fund small businesses. Each investment is an injection of $5-15 million of capital into a growth-ready business for a minority stake of up to 49%, with an exit plan set from day one. 

Bookmark your State or Territory’s grants and funding page

Each state government also has its own department or office dedicated to supporting business, including startups, sole traders and small not-for-profit organisations. We have compiled a list of state government websites and the pages directly related to startup grants for women in all 7 states and territories for you! 

For those in the Premier State

NSW Government Grants and Funding

For those in the Garden State

Business Victoria Grants & Programs

For those in the Sunshine State

Advance Queensland Programs

For those in SA

SA’s Office for Small and Family Business’ Grant Programs

For those in Van Diemen’s Land

Business Tasmania Funding and Support

For those in the Capital

ACT Government Grants

For those in WA

WA’s Small Business Development Corporation

For those in the Top End

NT Government Business Grants and Funding

Look for industry-specific grants and funding

There are some funds and startup grants for women that are designed for specific industries, offered by both the public and private sector. For example, earlier in 2023, the Australian Government announced $15.9m in new grants for 17 projects in the latest round of Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship (WiSE) grants. This was the 4th round of funding with the previous 3 rounds of the WiSE program providing $10 million for 54 projects to boost the participation of women and girls in STEM across Australia. If you run a startup in STEM, definitely check in about the WiSE program for future rounds. 

Here are some other industry-specific grants we’ve discovered that may be of interest:

Check with business accelerators and incubators

Business accelerators are focused on helping startups rapidly grow and scale their businesses, while incubators are focused on providing ongoing support to startups over a longer period of time. 

Many business accelerators and incubators also offer funding for business, in addition to other resources and support like mentorship and access to networks.

We’ve curated a list of accelerators and incubators that are industry-specific as well as open to all startups. 

  • Global Sisters accelerates women from the earliest stage of ideation and building foundational business knowledge through to launching, gaining momentum and growing their businesses. Through a roadmap of programs, Global Sisters offer 3 stages of support over a 3+ year roadmap, making their offerings especially ideal for those who have just discovered self-employment as a viable option and are beginning their entrepreneurial journey.
  • SBE Australia accelerates women-led businesses by delivering a number of programs that cater to different stages of business, including:
    • SBE Explore for the very early stages of ideation and validation
    • SBE Evolve for businesses looking to scale
    • SBE Elevate to support women-led scale-up businesses that are post-MVP
    • SBE Global for high-growth companies looking to scale internationally or into new international markets in the next 6-18 months.
  • EnergyLab’s Climate Solutions Accelerator invests in startups that deploy solutions to mitigate climate change at scale. The program consists of 5 modules over 5 months and the amounts range from $75,000 to $100,000 investment at your latest post-money valuation (your approximate market value after any outside financing is accounted for). 
  • MedTech Actuator aggressively funds and accelerates MedTech, HealthTech and BioTech ventures across Asia Pacific, with initial investments of up to $200,000, plus support in accelerating from Seed stage to Series A in 15 months.
  • Startmate Accelerator boosts early-stage and high-growth potential startups across all industries in Australia and New Zealand with a 12-week experience. The Accelerator runs twice a year and invests $120k at a $1.5mn valuation for startups that haven’t raised capital and $120,000 at your latest valuation if you’ve already raised capital. You’ll recognise names amongst their alumni like Heaps Normal and AirRobe.
  • H2 Ventures is a fintech accelerator for startups working on innovative solutions in Fintech, Data and AI. They invest on a cohort basis in 8-16 startups at a time and all businesses participate in their 6-month in-house pre-seed program. We weren’t able to find out how much they typically invest though!

Other funding options outside of startup business grants 

In a previous blog, “How To Get Funding For Your Business”, we took you through forms of non-dilutive and dilutive funding to start a business, with pros and cons of each funding option and who each funding option is best for. You can learn all about small business loans, rewards-based and equity-based crowdfunding, venture capital funding and angel investment in that article. 

At Lift Women, we are passionate about inspiring and empowering female entrepreneurs to achieve their business dreams — and part of this is also funding them ourselves! For 2 consecutive years, we have run our Female Founder Grant Challenge. Through the Challenge, we not only award the winning female founders a cash grant, but also thousands of dollars in support in the areas of strategy, accounting, legal, marketing and more. We will definitely back for another Challenge in 2023 so stay tuned.

With so many business funding grants and programs available, small business owners in Australia have a wealth of opportunities to access the funding and support needed to succeed. By checking government websites, exploring industry-specific business funding grants and funding opportunities, and considering business accelerators and incubators, you can find the resources needed to start and grow your businesses! 

At Lift Women, we offer free 30-minute business strategy consultations to help female founders take the next steps in their startup, including assisting them to navigate grants and funding for business. Book your call to move forwards in realising your business dreams. If you have found this article useful, head to our other channels for more information: sign up to our free community platform, follow us on Instagram, connect with us on LinkedIn or sign up to our newsletter on our website.

Top Small Business Grants For Women-Owned Businesses In Australia

Government Grants for Women Small Business Owners

 

Need funding for your women-led business? In Australia, there are several small business grants for women that are offered on a state and territory level, as well as by the federal government. In this article, we’ve spotlighted 2 small business grants for women per state and territory.

 

What makes grants an attractive funding option is that – to put it frankly – you don’t have to pay the money back and it doesn’t require you to give up any ownership in your business. And that just scratches the surface of the benefits. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to expand your operations, there’s a grant out there that can help you achieve your goals, so get ready to learn all about some of the top small business grants for women-owned businesses in each Aussie state!

At the time of this article – March 2023 – all the below grants are open or opening soon. We have spotlighted 2 per state and territory. Where there are no grants for women small business, we have included other small business grants in Australia that are open to everyone.

 

New South Wales

1. Return To Pathways Program 

Are you leading a business that’s helping women who face enduring, complex barriers to enter or reenter the workforce? Perhaps you’re a startup that is assisting homeless women and girls to become work-ready or an organisation that’s focussed on empowering females with disabilities in the workplace. 

The Return to Pathways Program offers small business grants for women small businesses of $100,000 to $250,000, with the amount dependent on the your business model, the number of participants to be supported and the level and intensity of service you provide.

2. MVP Ventures Program

Though not open to only female founders, the MVP Ventures Program supports businesses that are commercialising an innovative product, process or service with funded activities carried out in NSW. Since Lift Women began in 2021, we have seen a significant number of tech startups using our platform to secure funding, especially those in the Fintech and Healthtech spaces, so we had to include this Program! 

 

Queensland

1. Accelerating Female Founders Program

Is your business developing or significantly improving an innovative product or service, with the intention to commercialise it? The Accelerating Female Founders Program offers small business grants for women, with amounts between $10,000 to $100,000. In addition to funding, the Program also provides mentoring and business acumen activities like support on pitch and demo days, competitor analysis and 1-on-1 sessions with expert advisors. 

2. Female Founders Co-Investment Fund

Have you just secured pre-seed or seed investment? You may be eligible for the Female Founders Co-Investment Fund. This small business grant in Australia matches the funding you have received at a 3:1 ratio so you’ll get $1 in grant funding for every $3 of secured investment. These micro business grants start at $50,000 and can go up to $200,000. 

 

South Australia

1. Seed-Start Program

If you lead an early-stage SA startup that is bringing a unique product or service that has a sustainable competitive advantage in both national and international markets, you could be eligible for the Seed-Start Program. Not exclusive to female founders, the Program supports SA startups across all industries and there are 2 funding options, based on your business’ stage of development, with grant amounts from $50,000 and up to $500,000.

2. Innovation Ecocsystem

Is your business all about building SA’s startup and entrepreneurial scene? The Innovation Ecosystem (part of the Research and Innovation Fund, like the Seed-Start Program) offers micro business grants of between $20,000 to $50,000 to programs, events and activities that greatly benefit SA’s startup community. This includes conferences and scholarship programs. 

 

Western Australia

For our female founders in the West, we’re the bearer of bad news — there looks to be no (or at least, very limited) grant opportunities for you. In the words of your government, “As a start-up, you would generally have to seek funding from other sources, rather than relying on grants.” So, scroll on down to ‘Nationwide grants and programs’ to see if any there suit you.

 

Victoria

1. Victorian Women’s Trust

Are you running a not-for-profit that is committed to improving certain outcomes for Victorian women, girls, non-binary and gender diverse people? If so, the VWT’s Annual Grants Program could boost your operations by $2,000 to $10,000. As one of Australia’s few grant-makers dedicated to women, the VWT have provided these targeted gov grants for small business since 1985. 

2. The Alice Anderson Fund

Named after the founder of Australia’s first all-woman motor garage in the 1920s, the Alice Anderson Fund co-invests $50,000 to $300,000 in women-led startups. The Alice Anderson Fund’s investment is structured so that only 85c in the dollar is taken as equity; the rest is provided as a non-dilutive grant to the startup. This gives women-led startups an extra upside. With every dollar matched by three dollars of private investment, the Alice Fund will unlock close to $40 million for women founders by 2024.

And in case you missed it, Lift Women actually secured investment from the Fund in 2022!

 

Tasmania

1. Small Business Growth Strategy Grant Program

The Tasmanian Government has set out its Small Business Growth Strategy 2026 with priorities and objectives for both public and private sectors to support small business growth. The themes are people and connections, place, enabling business and technology. The Small Business Growth Strategy Grant Program awards grants of between $10,000 to $50,000 to fund the delivery of new projects that align with these themes.

2. Local council

Your local council may also have year-round gov grants for small business and assistance programs that are appropriate for you!

 

Australian Capital Territory

1. Innovation Connect Grant

Have a project with technical and commercial feasibility to bring to market? Innovation Connect Grant or ICON offers eligible Canberra-based early-stage innovative entrepreneurs and startups matched-funded grants between $10,000 to $30,000. You receive 50% of your grant funding upon signing and the remainder is paid upon completion of milestones.

2. Community Zero Emissions Grants Program

If you have a project that is aimed at lowering emissions in response to climate change, the Community Zero Emissions Grants Program could boost your efforts by $600,000 over 4 years. From 2017 to 2021, there will be $550,000 available over 4 years too (you’d have to apply again).

 

Northern Territory

1. Business Innovation Program

Open to all startups and entrepreneurs with an innovative idea, the Business Innovation Program offers micro business grants of up to $30,000, alongside up to $2,600 in advisory services, to help plan, develop and commercialise your project.

2. Global Trade Scheme

Ready to bring your product to new markets and have an annual turnover of between $75,000 and $10 million? The Global Trade Scheme can assist you in becoming export-ready with grants of up to $50,000, depending on what stage of the export journey you’re at. Applications are open year-round until all funding has been allocated. 

 

Nationwide grants and programs

1. Boosting Female Founders Initiative

In 2020, the Australian Government announced a total of $52.2 million in grant funding for the Boosting Female Founders Initiative, created to help female founders access finance and support to grow their startups. There have been 2 rounds so far with 89 female-founded startup businesses receiving funding to help them scale into national and international markets. When will round 3 be? Keep an eye on the website for updates. 

2. Entrepreneurs’ Programme

There’s also the Entrepreneurs’ Programme and its Innovation Connections grant for businesses in growth sectors who want to research an idea with commercial potential, and Accelerating Commercialisation grant for businesses with novel offerings that are ready to scale up and commercialise in global markets. Though this gov grant for small business is not dedicated to female founders, itcan truly transform your business.

With so many opportunities to secure extra funding for your startup, it’s important to get clear on the eligibility criteria, application processes and funding amounts so you can apply for the small business grant in Australia best suited for your needs. This is also, by no means, an exhaustive list of small business grants for women that are open to you, especially as more initiatives are always popping up! Bookmark your state government’s business grants page and check back regularly to stay on top of different grants for small business and important dates. 

At Lift Women, we are passionate about inspiring and empowering female entrepreneurs to achieve their business dreams — and part of this is also funding them ourselves! For 2 consecutive years, we have run our Female Founder Grant Challenge. Through the Challenge, we not only award the winning female founders a cash grant, but also thousands of dollars in support in the areas of strategy, accounting, legal, marketing and more. We will definitely be back for another Challenge in 2023 so join our Lift Women Free Community to receive our tips and the latest updates.

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