NSW sets aside $10m for women-led VCs

Brandon How

Women-led startups will get access to a $10 million venture capital fund as part of the New South Wales government’s 2022-23 budget, to be released later this month.

Named after Italian-Australian businesswoman and fashion titan Carla Zampatti, the fund will target early-stage startups led by women. The fund will also collaborate with the private sector to expand the amount of money available.

The fund will open for applications by the end of 2023 after is design is finalised in consultation with industry. Around one third of small business owners in New South Wales are women.

New South Wales Treasurer Matt Kean said that the fund is an important step to improving gender equality.

“The need to reduce the gender pay gap is well known. What’s less known is the gender investment gap, with women-led startups receiving only about five per cent of venture capital funding in Australia last year,” Mr Kean said.

“This fund will unleash a new wave of female entrepreneurs, providing women with more opportunities to finance their startups and take their businesses to the next level.”

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean

Ms Zampatti led the global women’s fashion scene for more than 50 years and was a founding member of representative body Chief Executive Women. The group’s member organisations account for more than $249 billion of Australia’s GDP.

Mr Kean described Ms Zampatti as a “champion of Australian women and a multicultural success story”.

The state treasurer originally signalled his intention to introduce the $10 million venture capital fund during a speech at the start of April. At the time, he said that “female-founded start-ups generating on average twice the return as start-ups founded by men”.

Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor said the funding would support more women in launching and growing their own businesses.

“Female-owned businesses have a proven track record of success, but the balance isn’t right with female entrepreneurs far less likely to receive venture capital funding. This fund will help more women get their ideas off the ground, because we know that if women succeed, NSW succeeds,” Ms Taylor said.

The New South Wales government is currently developing a new Women’s Strategy and has published a discussion paper which is open for consultation until June 20. Several online focus groups will be held before then. The state’s last strategy was launched in mid-2018.

The federal government has offered grants to women-led startups through the $52.2 million Boosting Female Founders scheme since 2020, with around $33.5 million committed so far. Round three of the program closes later today.

According to the Female Founder Funding Report by Australian startup ecosystem monitoring group Techboard, between July 2017 and June 2021 female-founded companies represented just 23.7 per cent of all startup funding.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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