Kickstarter Challenge program to help women jumpstart their entrepreneurial dreams

The Accelerator for Enterprising Women, the national initiative funded by the Australian Government’s Women’s Leadership and Development Program, has announced the opening of applications for its Kickstarter Challenge program.

The program is open to all women with new business ideas for a chance to share in $60,000 equity-free funding so they can realise their business dreams in key areas that are critical to the Australian economy.

Supported by the Australian Government and launched in February by Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Katy Gallagher, this year’s Kickstarter Challenge is keen towards helping women-led business pitches in the sectors of STEM and technology; Health, wellbeing and the care economy; Climate change and sustainability; and Women’s economic equality.

The Kickstarter winner will be awarded $30,000 equity-free seed funding and the finalists will each receive $7,500 to develop their business, in addition to mentoring opportunities and introductions to a community of like-minded female entrepreneurs. There will also be a People’s Choice award will be decided by popular vote before entries close in mid-October.

Last year’s inaugural winner, 24-year-old Hailey Brown, used her prize money to expand her inclusive travel app Vacayit which provides immersive audio guides to travellers who are blind or have low vision.

“Joining the Accelerator for Enterprising Women was truly a pivotal moment for Vacayit,” Brown said. “Enterprising Women’s invaluable funding, resources, mentorship and community helped us propel our business to new heights.” 

Launched in January 2021, the Accelerator for Enterprising Women aims to empower women to turn their business dreams into reality with practical pathways designed to shape and grow ideas, providing them the confidence to take the leap into entrepreneurship.

The initiative seeks to address the ongoing gender gap in entrepreneurship. A 2022 Deloitte study found that despite recent growth in the number of female founders, only 22 per cent of Australian start-ups were founded by women with only nine per cent of capital-raising deals going to female founder teams. Another report by Xero noted that only 36 per cent of small-business owners are women, despite an increase of 40 per cent since 2001.