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! 



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.



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!



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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