The findings from the first national survey of women business owners and female entrepreneurs have been released and the findings mark a milestone for Australian women; to our understanding this is the first time a survey of this kind has been conducted in Australia about women business owners and female entrepreneurs.
This important national report has found that:
78% of respondents left employment at middle to upper management level to start their business
33% of respondents employ staff
27% of respondents have an annual turnover of more than $250,000
42% of respondents started their business with less than $5,000
51% of respondents now need capital to grow their business.
It is clear from the research results that businesswomen and female entrepreneurs are growing in numbers and turnover, however, they still need access to capital, access to markets and business capacity and skills building to expand and grow.
This month I have spoken to many lenders, several Venture Capitalist and presented at the Angel National Conference (AAAI) to promotewomen and ensure women are not ignored.
While information is available on women in leadership and management roles, little data was available about the 700,000+ women running a business in Australia, until now.
To-date, women entrepreneurship has been largely neglected. Equal opportunity between men and women, from the perspective of entrepreneurship, is still not a reality.
With this new and important data, the AWCCI can advocate for programs and policies to ensure women business owners and female entrepreneurs are able to maximise their contribution to our nation's economic growth.
Women are also the world's biggest consumers. It is essential these businesses survive and grow because women reinvest into their communities leading to greater economic growth and a flourishing economy.
Women now account for 60% of university graduates; they are the first generation of women to consider owning a business as a career.
In the United States, women owned businesses grew more than 42% in the last decade.
Australia is heading in a similar direction. We believe this trend will continue and the AWCCI will closely monitor this growth to ensure women are included in business programs and policy decision-making and are able to procure contracts to guarantee revenue growth.
What we do not want to find in five or ten years from now, is half a million women living below the poverty line because they have no Superannuation, a failed business and are no longer employable. My vision is to make changes to prevent this from happening; prevention is better than cure and I want the next generation to still call Australia the lucky country!
The Prime Ministers' new economy must bring with it new models to ensure women are given access to capital and access to markets as stated in the Declaration signed by Australia at the first Women's Economic Summit at APEC in September 2011. And that includes ensuring they are given a fair go when it comes to the procurement of contracts. The AWCCI will advocate to ensure governments take concrete actions to monitor contract procurement.
The National Research on Women Business Owners & Female Entrepreneurs poll was a voluntary online survey conducted by the AWCCI between 26 September and 19 December 2011. The survey was open to women who own and operate their own business across Australia. There were 104 questions. 2952 respondents are recorded as having participated.
The AWCCI would like to thank the Australian Federal Government and the NSW State Government for their contribution. We would also like to thank our Research Sponsor Macquarie Leasing and our Partners: The Australian Women's Weekly, Avril Henry Pty Ltd, emPOWER, EPR Careers and Wild Bush Luxury.
Many thanks to our Associates: Business Network International (BNI), Little Black Dress, Network Central, She Business Australia, Success Women's Network, TCY, The Pharmacy Guild, TiE Sydney and Women In Global Business (WIGB).
The AWCCI Research Steering Committee included: Professor Marian Baird (University of Sydney), Cynthia Balough (WIGB), Dr Patrice Braun (Centre for Regional Innovation & Competitiveness), Tina Brothers (Reibey Institute) and Yolanda Vega (AWCCI Founder and CEO).
A special thanks to Ita Buttrose for her persistence in working to drive women to the poll for this important research.