Springboard Enterprises 2015

(5pm, Customs House)

Thank you, Topaz, [Conway, Springboard chair], and good evening, everyone.

The City was glad to sponsor Springboard Australia's Accelerator Program, wonderfully described as a "knowledge boot camp" for businesswomen.

We were glad because despite the many advances made, women remain the world's great under-used resource, in Australia as elsewhere.

Women make up almost half our workforce and more than half of our university population but very few are entrepreneurs with high-growth businesses. You in this room are the exception, not the norm.

It is a world-wide problem.

In the United States, women lead just three per cent of tech start-ups and account for only four per cent of the senior venture partners funding such start-ups.

Eighty-five per cent of all venture capital-funded businesses in the US did not have a single woman on the executive team.

It's a similar picture here, with the 2012 Silicon Beach study reporting that only four per cent of Australian start-up founders are women.

Yet start-ups - especially high-growth start-ups - are a key to job creation and leadership in new industries. So the absence of women-led start-ups becomes a major economic deficit. It's not a "women's issue" but an economic issue.

Too little investment in women-led high-growth companies makes a barrier to economic growth for the whole society.

As Topaz herself wrote earlier this month in the Sydney Morning Herald, while women represent more than 50 per cent of all small businesses at start-up time, that gradually falls to about 30 per cent of businesses that are able to sustain themselves.

And she added that "for most women, their companies stay small, are inadequately funded, and local".

Springboard's Accelerator Program will help its participants not only develop their skills, but maximise their chances of growth and success. It also connects them and their businesses with a global network of investors who are dedicated to supporting high-growth tech companies.

Sixteen women have completed the Accelerator program over the last two years. And of this group, more than a third have successfully raised capital averaging between $1 and $2 million.

Five are scaling their business into the US market.

Tomorrow, applications for the 2015 Accelerator will open. So I encourage all women entrepreneurs - especially those in Sydney, Australia's tech and entrepreneurial capital - to apply.

Get the connections, join the network and think big!