The new women’s club aiming to close the entrepreneurship gender gap

The new women’s club aiming to close the entrepreneurship gender gap


Across Australia, women entrepreneurs and startup founders are carving out spaces for innovation, leadership, and growth. Representing about one-third of the nation’s small business owners, these trailblazing women are not just participating in the economy; they’re reshaping it.

Between 2006 and 2021, the number of female small business owners grew by 24 per cent, more than three times the growth for their male counterparts. This is testament to the resilience, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit of women across the country.

Despite these strides, women entrepreneurs continue to face a unique set of challenges that can hinder their journey to success. Access to essential resources such as time, capital, and connections remains a significant barrier. These constraints are not just numbers on a page; they represent real hurdles that can stifle the potential of women-led businesses to innovate, expand, and thrive.

The journey of a female entrepreneur is often marked by the struggle to find balance, secure funding, and build networks in an ecosystem where the odds are often stacked against them at the outset.

Navigating the business world often hinges on the networks one can leverage, underscoring the adage, “It’s not just what you know, but who you know.” This principle holds particularly true in the realm of entrepreneurship, where the quality of connections can significantly influence business success.

Historically, however, women have found themselves on the periphery of the so-called ‘boys’ clubs’—the informal yet powerful networks of male friendships that gatekeep crucial opportunities for advancement and success. These clubs are emblematic of a broader system designed to sideline women, creating barriers to their professional growth and entrepreneurial ventures.

However, within this challenge lies an opportunity for innovation and community building. By intentionally creating support networks that mirror the exclusivity of boys’ clubs but are inclusive and tailored to women’s needs, we can begin to dismantle these barriers.

To this end, One Roof has developed the Inner Circle, a bespoke program designed specifically for women entrepreneurs. Inner Circle offers a structured environment where members can find business confidants and a ‘brains’ trust’ dedicated to their success. Following the success seen in its initial cohorts—impacting over 200 members of their community—One Roof is now extending the Inner Circle program to the wider public.

The entrepreneurial journey, while rewarding, can often be a solitary path, leading many founders to confront feelings of isolation. Research underscores the importance of connectedness for mental wellbeing, yet for entrepreneurs, especially women, achieving this sense of community can be daunting.

This is where initiatives like One Roof’s Inner Circle become invaluable. Acting as a trusted board of advisors, the Inner Circle provides a platform for women entrepreneurs to engage with peers for solace, inspiration, motivation, and accountability.

It’s a space where the entrepreneurial spirit is nurtured, and the loneliness that often accompanies business leadership is combated through shared experiences and collective wisdom.

While there are esteemed organisations and programs like YPO and Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO) that have set the precedent for supporting entrepreneurs, the entry barriers to these groups can be prohibitively high, particularly for women who are in the midst of scaling their businesses.

These stages of growth are critical, and the need for support is paramount. The Inner Circle acknowledges this gap, offering a more accessible alternative for those who are on their ascent to success but may not yet meet the stringent criteria of more established groups. This focus on inclusivity and support during the growth phase is crucial, ensuring that the journey to success is not a solitary venture but a shared experience.

The creation of such spaces is not merely an act of defiance against the traditional ‘boys’ clubs’ but a necessary reimagining of how success is built and shared.

It’s about subverting existing power structures that have historically marginalised women, and instead, constructing new ones that are inclusive, supportive, and geared towards the success of all its members.

Because when we create our own circles, we’re not just navigating around the barriers; we’re dismantling them entirely. And that’s not just good for women; it’s good for everyone.

Applications for Inner Circle close at midnight on 26 March, and scholarships for diversity and financial support are available.\

Image: One Roof’s Frances Goh.


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