Microenterprise program enables women to start up small businesses

The Morrison Government is providing $3.5 million to Grameen Australia to establish and deliver an innovative program to create entrepreneurial opportunities for unemployed women.

The program invites participants to join small peer support groups and offers mentoring, training and access to loans and savings programs, to support them as they establish their own small business.

Minister for Families and Social Services and Women’s Safety Anne Ruston said it was exciting that Grameen Australia was bringing its internationally successful program to Australia to help women who are not currently employed to re-enter the workforce and gain financial independence.

“We know that supporting women to find and keep employment creates lasting change not only for the individual but for the community more broadly,” Minister Ruston said.

“It is impressive to see Grameen use innovative measures to help women establish their business while also providing wrap around services to ensure they have the support available to take this significant step in their career.”

This funding works alongside the Government’s $1.7 billion investment in childcare subsidies designed to improve women’s workforce participation.

Minister for Women’s Economic Security Jane Hume said this initiative would create new self-employment opportunities, boost financial literacy and workforce skills for Australian women.

“We know the best way to boost women’s economic security is to remove barriers to women’s participation in the workforce. This initiative does just that,” Minister Hume said.

“Microenterprise development allows women to become their own boss, offering flexibility and choice for women who have so much talent and skill to offer in the workforce.”

“This program will empower women, helping to build their careers, but will also provide a flow on benefit to the Australian economy. It’s a win-win.”

Grameen founder and 2006 Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus said these concepts and models that have been highly effective in realising economic mobility of women in many countries.

“Following several visits to Australia I believe that we can reach the vast entrepreneurial potential of many women on low incomes,” Mr Yunus said,

“Creating meaningful livelihoods not only gives income, economic independence and resilience, but also hope, belonging and a sense of purpose towards a full life.”

Adam Mooney, chief executive of Grameen Australia, said this was a fabulous opportunity to bring Grameen’s group support models and tailor these to an Australian setting.

“I’m excited to work with our team to start the program in Broadmeadows and gradually offer this to other communities,” Mr Mooney said.

“Grameen has a track record of applying seed investment effectively to create sustainable microfinance programs in a highly efficient and impactful way through specialised group support models, with the entrepreneur taking control.”

Grameen Australia will work directly with women who are unemployed, women with disability, women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and Indigenous and older women.

This program will initially be delivered in Broadmeadows, Victoria, before extending to other locations across Australia.

Grameen Australia estimate that they will create about 6,000 new jobs for women in Australia during the first two years of their operation.

This funding is part of the $3.4 billion Women’s Budget Statement which has a range of measures designed to remove workforce disincentives for women and increase employment in key industries.