Westpac Doubles Down On Backing Women In Business


Westpac has injected $63 million of capital to support female entrepreneurs, helping more than 350 women start or grow their business, since announcing a $500 million commitment[1] to back more female-led small businesses a year ago.

To build on our commitment, the bank is also introducing the following new measures:

  • Investing further to support women’s entrepreneurship in Australia with a new training program to help bankers better understand some of the barriers faced by women-led businesses.
  • A partnership with UNSW Founders’ 10X Accelerator Program, providing funding for three $20,000 scholarships designed to support women to balance work and personal commitments during the program.

“We know there’s a gap in the Australian market for start-up funding, particularly for women. Our research shows 51 per cent of women plan to apply for finance to support short to medium business growth, yet more women find it harder to access finance compared with men (29% women to 21% men)*.”

“That’s the problem we set out to address with the $500 million commitment we made last year, and it’s fantastic to see it delivering on that purpose,” said Shane Howell, Westpac Managing Director, Business Lending.

“As a major bank for small and medium businesses, we have a key role to play in boosting capital for aspiring business owners. This supports our customers to realise their dreams, and importantly it also contributes to economic growth and innovation.

“I’m proud we’re further investing in the female-led economy through a new training program to better equip our bankers to support female-led businesses and providing funding for three scholarships through the UNSW Founders’ 10X Accelerator Program which we hope will help relieve some of the financial pressure so recipients can focus on their own development,” he said.

“Our ongoing focus on backing female-led businesses supports the bank’s wider commitment to inclusion and playing our part to create equal access to opportunities and finance,” he said.

Matina Karvounaris, National General Manager, Small Business leads a team of business bankers who will participate in the new training program. Commenting on Westpac’s commitment she said:

“We’re passionate about backing women in business and these initiatives are another way we can support them to get started or grow.

“As we celebrate international women’s day, and this year’s theme to ‘invest in women: accelerate progress’, there’s no better time to ensure our bankers have greater insight on the barriers that exist for women in business and what we can do to help overcome them,” she said.

Applications for a Westpac UNSW Founders scholarship open in April via westpac.com.au/femalefounders.

Business Loans for Start-ups^. Unsecured business loans between $10,000 and $50,000 with loan terms of up to five years to help new businesses get started. These are businesses that have operated for less than 2 years and applicants must provide a sound business plan and budget projections and meet eligibility and credit criteria for approval.

Business Loans for Scale-ups^. Secured or unsecured business loans between $5,000 and $3 million with a variety of loan terms to help existing businesses to grow. Applicants must provide relevant financial and tax information and meet eligibility and credit criteria for approval.

*About the Research:

Research conducted by Lonergan Research on behalf of Westpac in October 2023. It was an online survey conducted among a representative sample of over 500 Australian SME Business Leaders.

^Terms & Conditions, fees & charges and eligibility and credit criteria apply.

[1] $500m has been ringfenced for lending to women in business, however the Business Loans for Start Up and Business Loans for Scale Up are available to people of any gender.

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