Following the success of the first round of the Boosting Females Founders Initiative, the Australian Government has pledged an additional $35.9 million over the next five years (adding to the $18 million budget) to assist female entrepreneurs overcome the disadvantages they face in accessing finance and additional support to grow their start-ups.
The boosting female founders initiative is successful. So far 51 start-ups have received funding for their projects in diverse industries including education, health, construction and manufacturing, tourism, food, crafts, finance and many others. Whilst the scheme has attracted some criticism for excluded some ‘female founded’ businesses with significant portions of the equity held by a male, the program has been extremely popular with vast numbers of applications being received so far. Round Two is currently open for applications which will close on 22 April 2021.
- The program provides matched funding to female founders of start-ups to help them undertake specific projects to scale into domestic and global markets. Grants are available from $25,000 and $480,000 and are assessed on a competitive, merit-based process. Female founders can also access expert mentoring and advice to help them meet their goals. The stated objectives of the program are to:
- stimulate private sector investments into innovative start-ups led by women
- help women entrepreneurs overcome the disadvantages faced in getting access to finance and support to grow their start-ups
- enable female founders to scale-up, expand into domestic and global markets, and become self-sufficient
- boost the economy through increasing the diversity of start-up founders.
Eligibility and Merit Criteria
Eligible start-up entities must have an Australian Business Number (ABN) and be an entity incorporated in Australia, a partnership or a sole trader that is majority owned and led by women.
For this initiative a start-up is defined as an early stage, innovative or disruptive business that is scalable and working on a new or novel product, service or has a different business model.
Application follows a two-stage process where applicants first submit an expression of interest (EOI) (Stage One) form, with successful applicants being invited to move to a more intensive Stage Two application.
- EOI Stage One Assessment is based on:
- How a grant will help you to scale-up, expand into domestic and global markets, and become self-sufficient (40 points)
- Your capacity, capability and resources to grow (30 points)
- The impact of grant funding (30 points)
- Stage Two Assessment is based on:
- How grant funding will help you to overcome disadvantages to scale up, expand into domestic and global markets and become self-sufficient (40 points)
- Your capacity, capability and resources to deliver the project (30 points)
- The impact of grant funding (30 points)
- As with most grant programs, successful applicants will be those who demonstrate that they have strong project that is aligned with the program objectives. Eligible projects under the Boosting Female Founders Initiative are those that may include the following kinds of activities:
- developing software and apps
- launching and scaling products
- product development and marketing
- purchase of equipment to enable growth
- expansion to other markets
- access to independent management (for example C-suite, advisory board)
- access to relevant professional development
- Eligible expenditure will include most expenditure related to the activities that are part of the agreed upon project, with the major expenditure categories being:
- salary and contractor costs for personnel who work on the project
- equipment purchases
- marketing costs
- travel costs
- technology acquisition costs including servers or machines to support scalability
- staff training
The above article discusses some of the major areas of the program, however there are many other conditions that prospective applicants should be aware of. These are all contained in the grant opportunity guidelines which can be accessed from the Boosting Female Founders website, which also contains sample application forms etc. As our Tips for Grant Success article details, it is extremely important that potential applicants review all criteria and requirements carefully before investing resources into pursuing grants.