Opinion

“Disappointing”: Why it’s easier for men to grow a business than women in Australia

- March 9, 2022 2 MIN READ
Serious looking business woman with arms crossed in her venue

Latest research revealing that female entrepreneurs in Australia are still facing more barriers to business growth than their male counterparts is “disappointing”, says Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Bruce Billson.

This International Women’s Day, I want to extend maximum respect to the incredible women out there dedicating their time and efforts to supporting small businesses, particularly those contending with record-breaking floods and massive clean-up operations happening along the east coast of Australia.

Over the past few weeks I have had the privilege of meeting with many of these inspiring business women, who are giving back and giving more to their communities to help other businesses recover from natural disasters and the pandemic.

Some of the women I would like to acknowledge include Grace Brennan (Buy From The Bush founder), Renae Hanvin (Corporate 2 Community), Townsville Business Development Coach Verena Coombs, Bronwyn Reid (author of Small Company, Big Crisis) and Jane Barned (author of the Rural Financial Counselling toolkit).


Thank you to all of the committed women out there supporting small businesses and recovery.

Women entrepreneurs still facing gender inequality

International Women’s Day also provides a timely opportunity to shine a light on a significant barrier to growth for women-led small businesses – access to capital.

My office has conducted a survey of more than 600 Australian women-owned, women-led small businesses, which revealed 43 per cent of respondents identified access to capital as a central barrier to growth.

It’s disappointing that on International Women’s Day 2022, female entrepreneurs are still facing headwinds when trying to grow their business.


There are obvious economic benefits that would flow from addressing barriers to growth for the rapidly increasing number of Australian women small business owners.

Two-thirds of new businesses created in Australia in the past decade have been founded by women (Xero Boss Insights 2021) and there has been a 46 per cent jump in women business owners over the past 20 years (ABS).

The recent State of Australian Startup Funding report found 82 per cent of female founders believe gender impacted their ability to raise venture capital funding. Just 10 per cent of female founders felt highly confident they would raise their next funding round, compared to 63 per cent of male founders.

Globally, the World Bank reports access to finance is a ‘major hurdle’ as women are left with an estimated $1.7 trillion of unmet demand for credit.

Women’s economic empowerment is key to our national recovery

By reducing headwinds and energising female enterprise ,there is a significant economic upside. Research by Asialink suggests boosting the number of female business owners to equal that of men, could add between $70 billion and $135 billion to our economy.

Women’s economic empowerment is key to our national recovery after an incredibly challenging couple of years.

My office will continue its work in identifying opportunities to improve the environment for small business and women’s entrepreneurship.

Watch Bruce Billson’s 2022 International Women’s Day address here:


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