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BDO partners with SBE to support female-led businesses

The firm will support the SBE Advisory Collective to help attract finance for companies founded by women.

BDO has partnered with investor group SBE Australia to help channel finance and advice to female-founded businesses with the potential to grow.

The SBE Advisory Collective was launched in response to research that found only 3.7 per cent of private sector funding went to solely women-founded companies from 2017 to 2021, dropping to just 0.7 per cent in 2021–22.

This was despite Deloitte estimates that the 351 businesses supported across investors SBE Australia, Heads over Heels and Scale Investors over the last 10 years had facilitated economic activity worth over $1 billion and almost 5,000 equivalent full-time roles in 2021–22.

CEO of SBE Australia Nicole Cook said the insights from the research exposed a lack of funding for women-led organisations in the face of success.

“What that research did was illuminate a gaping hole in support for funding women-led businesses in general,” said Ms Cook. “It was jarring. When we started the research project, we thought the percentage of funding going into the channel would be far greater.”

“We stepped back and questioned why, though so many promising women-led businesses exist, are they not getting funded?”

“A major finding was that while support for early-stage businesses through accelerator programs and grants is fairly strong, there is a cohort in the middle that just don’t have the critical support they need to get funded for commercialisation. They are the group that sit between early and mature businesses, what we would call scale-up.”

She said the SBE Advisory Collective would have a pure focus on providing these scale-up firms with the strategic support needed for them to meet their goals.

“This is about providing the critical support that the scaleup cohort needs to qualify for funding through our existing programs and now through advisory services delivered by our partners through the Advisory Collective,” said Ms Cook.

“We hope that by doubling down on building a pipeline of investment-ready scaleup businesses, the quantum of funding allocations going to women-led businesses will get closer to parity.”

BDO’s global fintech leader Tim Aman said the firm was keen to join as a partner as it meets a key goal for the firm as it looks to lead from the front on gender diversity and inclusivity.

“Partially for BDO this partnership is about having an active voice on the importance of gender diversity and inclusivity in business,” said Mr Aman.

“Commercially though, if we do a good job of supporting women-led scaleups, we know we can have a positive, long-ranging and historic impact on how the Australian business ecosystem operates.”

Ms Cook acknowledged while achieving investment parity for women-led businesses is a tall task she said the SBE Advisory Collective is just the next step in addressing the issue.

“The issue of parity is an area we’re looking at very closely to get a sense of what that means in entrepreneurship and the deployment of capital,” Ms Cook said.

“It would see us working with others to put some real goals down on paper to work towards.”

“It’s a bit early to say too much more at this stage, but expect to hear more from us on this soon.”


This article originally featured in Accountants Daily