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Rural vs Metro Small Businesses

Regional and rural businesses are more likely to source funding from banks/credit unions than those in metro Australia according to a report released today on women business owners and female entrepreneurs.
The National Research on Women Business Owners & Female Entrepreneurs Report conducted by the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AWCCI) looks at the distinctions between metro and rural/regional businesses and reveals that regional/rural businesses outlive those in metro Australia and that only 46% of women business owners in rural/regional areas pay themselves a wage. 

The research, which surveyed more than 2900 women business owners from around the country, found that:
  • Regional and rural businesses are more likely to source funding from bank and/or credit union loan(s) (23% vs. 11% metro).
  • Metro businesses are more likely to use personal savings (68% vs. 60%) or credit card debt (10% vs. 7%) for start-up funding than regional/rural businesses.
  • Metro respondents (49%) are more likely to be sole traders than regional respondents (39%).
  • Metro based respondents are slightly more likely to pay themselves a wage (50%) than those from regional/rural locations (46%).
  • Annual business turnover levels are similar for metro and regional/rural based respondents.
  • Regional/rural businesses are likely to be older (10 years average) than metro businesses (7 years).           

The survey also found that gender discrimination is most common in agriculture (46%) transport (43%) and construction (42%).

Yolanda Vega, Chief Executive at AWCCI, says the survey is the first national research to examine women entrepreneurs and female business owners in Australia. 

“The data is now available, the facts are at hand and it is time for Government and industry to recognize the serious issues identified,” says Vega. “Getting women on boards is good for a few hundred, however hundreds of thousands will benefit, as well as the economy, if industry and Government work to ensure women can get access to contracts. 

 “If we don’t help female entrepreneurs with decent policies and programs, everyone will have to pay the economic consequences and suffer in the short and long term.” 

Julie Ankers, National President of Women Chiefs of Enterprise International (WCEI) agrees: “This research is both interesting and alarming. 

“To have affirmed that such a high percentage of SMEs are not paying themselves a salary or contributing to super is very alarming. This research presents opportunities for innovative collaboration in order to address these urgent issues of financial security for women,” says Ankers.
There are almost one million women now trading around the country. Sandra Cook, Chair of economic Security4Women (eS4W) says: “We know many women are choosing to start up their own business in response to inflexible work places and to accommodate competing commitments to work and family. eS4W welcomes the release of this research and congratulates AWCCI for shining a light onto the issues impacting on women business owners and female entrepreneurs.”
Janine Garner, Founder of Little Black Dress Group, says:  “It is obvious from this research that for women in both regional/rural and metro Australia, the shift towards opening their own businesses is continuing.  What is of concern is the reasoning behind that shift, and what the outcomes are once they have made it.” 

According to Suzy Jacobs, CEO at She Business, “These statistics highlight the fact that the female business-owner as superwoman is more reality than myth. It’s what we have to do to get ahead with our businesses, especially with the pressure of current economies requiring households to have dual incomes to survive.”

The Australian Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry is Australia’s first and only national business chamber for women and female entrepreneurs. The AWCCI is a signatory to the APEC declaration signed during the first Women’s Economic Summit in 2011.

The AWCCI Research Steering Committee included: Professor Marian Baird (University of Sydney), Cynthia Balough (WIGB), Dr Patrice Braun (Centre for Regional Innovation & Competitiveness), Tina Brothers (Reibey Institute) and Yolanda Vega (AWCCI CEO).

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