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Celebrity chef Kylie Kwong, entrepreneur Helen Dao, and Marcus Marchant, CEO at Vista Australia. Source: supplied

ReferHer, supporting women in business

Through a new program to support women in business, ten Australian entrepreneurs will be able to connect with other women entrepreneurs around the world for coaching, networking, and capital opportunities at women’s co-working spaces.

ReferHer, launched by Vista in partnership with IFundWomen (IFW) and Melbourne-based co-working space One Roof, has offered $10,000 grants to ten winning women-led businesses across a range of industries, including pet behaviour management, fashion, and healthcare home delivery.

Other participating co-working spaces include Make Lemonade in Toronto, AllBright in London, The Jane Club in Los Angeles, and Mona by My Little Paris in Paris.

The prize also includes a one-year subscription to Vistacreate and $700 credit for both 99designs and Vistaprint from Vista; access to coaching and expert consultants through a one-year complimentary One Roof membership; and private coaching sessions and unlimited access to workshops from IFW.

On 18 May, ReferHer was officially kicked off in Australia with a celebratory dinner by celebrity chef and restauranteur Kylie Kwong at Lucky Kwong, Sydney.

READ ALSO: Ladies, take a seat: adapting recruitment processes to improve gender diversity

ReferHer, supporting women in business
Celebrity chef and restauranteur, Kylie Kwong. Source: supplied

“Being a restaurateur for close to 20 years, I know all too well the realities and energy required to manage all facets of a small business,” said Ms Kwong.

“It’s something you never stop thinking about! Support is crucial to help navigate the continual challenges and to also celebrate the great upsides. That’s why I was so drawn to the ReferHer campaign. It’s a wonderful and truly impactful way to celebrate, support, and encourage women in business.”

According to Helen Dao, founder and chief formulator of Be Fraiche, one of the winning ReferHer businesses, this program is an opportunity to surround herself with like-minded, strong women entrepreneurs.

“It is such an inspiring experience,” she added. “Winning this grant will be revolutionary for growing my business in the future and will allow me to nurture areas of my business I want to see flourish.”

Ashley Hanger, founder and director of Stripped Supply, called the grant “transformational.”

“Navigating the industry as a female entrepreneur and business owner can be extremely challenging,” she admitted. “Winning this grant has been transformational for me as a female business owner, opening so many new doors to expand my business in the future.”

ReferHer, supporting women in business
At the program launch at Lucky Kwong on 18 May. Source: supplied

Despite numerous strides towards diversity and equality in business, women entrepreneurs continue to struggle with funding options. Recent figures from IWF indicate that over 70 per cent of female founders cite lack of access to capital as the #1 barrier to launching their business. A quarter of female founders say that a lack of community and connections comes in the way.

“Through this program, we’ll celebrate and spotlight this group of entrepreneurs as we continue our mission to closing the funding gap for women-owned businesses,” said Karen Cahn, IFundWomen founder and CEO.

READ ALSO: What plans does the Albanese government have for SMEs?

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Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea L Nath is a Sydney-based writer and editor. In 2022, she was named Young Journalist of the Year at the NSW Premier's Multicultural Communications Awards.

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