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More than a third of Australia's business operators are women

25 September 2015

Just over a third of Australia’s business operators are women (34%), and their numbers are rising.

The Profile of Australian Women in Business report examines Australian women business operators in order to enable a better understanding of the changing role of this pathway of employment for women. A wide range of data has been gathered together for the first time to present a national picture of the personal, family, business and employment characteristics of such women.

The report shows the ways in which women who run their own businesses differ from male business operators, and from female and male employees. It examines the reasons women establish their own businesses, and notes some of the barriers to women’s employment in general and starting a business in particular. 

A number of reports touching on this subject have been done globally including Giving credit where it is due How closing the credit gap for women-owned SMEs can drive global growth (Goldman Sachs); Scaling up Why women-owned businesses can recharge the global economy (EY) and of course, the IFC and GBA have also had close looks at women owned businesses, their impact and the hurdles women operators often face. In nearly every case access to finance, information, education and networking opportunities have been singled out as hurdles for women whether here in Australia or overseas.

In 2014 we spoke with Noa Meyer from Goldman Sachs about the companies 10,000 Women program of which she is Global Program Director. What she had to say rang true for women wherever they live who wish to make a difference to their lives, their children's lives and their communities.

The 10,000 Women program is based on research by Goldman Sachs, the World Bank and other sources, that suggests that one of the most effective means to promote long-term economic growth is to invest in the financial education and empowerment of women. In addition to creating a larger and more productive workforce, educating women leads to healthier and better educated future generations as women reinvest earnings in the well-being of their families and communities.

10,000 Women is a global initiative that provides business and management education, mentoring and networking opportunities to female entrepreneurs in developing countries.

According to a report on the initiative released by Babson College, 69 percent of participants were found to have increased their revenue 18 months after graduating and 58 percent had added new jobs. Ninety percent of participants ‘pay it forward’ by mentoring other women.

A great deal of research has been done on the benefit of access to capital for women, in particular its ability to empower women and positively impact the future of their families and communities. The ABS Profile of Australian Women in Business supports such findings.

Starting your own business can be an exciting and daunting prospect: Westpac has a step by step guide to help make the dream a reality. Click here for more.