This International Women’s Day we’ve been placing a spotlight on some of the issues faced by women in business, and in a women’s quest for financial independence, in order to listen to her, and inform others. Today, we focus attention to finance for women.
At Global Sisters, we are all too familiar with the barriers women face in business, including barriers related to access to and use of financial products and services needed to start, grow and accelerate their businesses, along with their challenges of inequity in achieving financial independence.
In this article we bring a spotlight to women in microbusiness’ lived experiences around engagement with financial products and services. We raise some of the substantial barriers to entry and the challenges of ongoing engagement with the financial services sector.
It’s no secret that we have set our sights on making visible what we know, that together with insights from others, might just provide the design ingredients required to fix finance for women in micro business.
Now, more than ever before, we are focused on advocating for a strong commitment from financial services providers to work with stakeholders such as Global Sisters who are external to the sector but who can support them to design affordable, relevant, integrated financial products and services with women in micro business front-of-mind.
Take a peek inside, listen to her as she shared her journey, and reach out if you’d like to collaborate with us further.
LISTEN TO HER
Each year, International Women’s Day presents an important opportunity to celebrate the wins and highlight what further needs to be done. Today, we LISTEN TO HER lived experience, so we can all be more aware of where innovative solutions are required for women using the vehicle of microbusiness, to achieve economic equity in the financial sector. We also join together to FIGHT FOR HER to ensure economic security and financial well being is more than an aspiration – that it is achievable.
Here’s what our Sisters have to say!
When we look to finance our business growth….
“I’d rather make use of my own savings, grants, pre-ordering sales, or friends and family for informal working capital than navigate the documentation, find the surety required and endure the process for a formal loan”.
“When a Bank or Government Department determines my business as ‘not viable’, simply because it is small and in start-up phase, they fail to recognise small businesses take a while to start and that it requires investment to expand… and doesn’t mean my business isn’t a worthy one”.
“‘There is no consideration as to who I am or why I am starting a business (or how powerful that motivation is). As someone who has had a long time out of the workforce, who has never relied on Government benefits, yet made ends meet, and now wants to show her kids how to start earning one’s own income – don’t underestimate me”.
“It is impossible for start-ups who need an injection of capital to get going when you need to have money to borrow money”.
“There needs to be a different attitude taken when looking at my business plan. An attitude that starts with looking for the potential in my business. I have so much knowledge and so many contacts that will see my business be successful and I will make it happen.. But not as fast as I would with access to timely capital injections.”
When it comes to mitigating risks associated with business…
“With the rise of micro and home based businesses, why is there not an easier accessible tool or information repository specifically for relevant insurances for us?”
“To discuss microbusiness risk and insurance options is too emotional a subject at this point. Two years and still no policy – being constantly rejected for insurance cover because I don’t neatly fit a category has its limits.”
“I have multiple businesses that all do different things. The difficulty I have is finding insurance that is applicable and offers the right level of cover. Taking out multiple business insurances is very cost-prohibitive for microbusiness owners”
“The process of securing a quote and information for small business insurance needs to be simpler and easier. Staff members need to engage in non-threatening manner with customers. Niche micro and small businesses have difficulty fitting into categories”.
When we asked our Sisters what it was like to engage as a female founder or women-led micro business operator, here’s what they had to say…
“When I engaged with the formal financial sector, it left me feeling marginalised, overwhelmed with paperwork and insulted at their best finance rate offer of 16%.”
“People who have been subjected to financial abuse from DV relations, struggle with financial decisions, especially during the start up and early growth phase of their business journey. The environment needs to be safe and we need much more hands-on support.”
“It is very challenging for a single older woman to be taken seriously and successfully access finance for her microbusiness.”
“How do I fill in my centrelink form to tell them I’m a start-up indigenous microbusiness farmer establishing, growing and trading native foods? Where is that box?”
“Micro and Small Businesses especially sole female traders are innovative and reactive to current trends. They should not be ignored, devalued or underestimated for the contributions to their communities. Even memberships to local chambers of commerce or industry groups have such barriers to entry in the form of membership fees (some as high as $2k+ per year). It is near impossible to afford. If we can’t afford membership fees, we can’t contribute.”
When we asked our Sisters what their most pressing question was when it came to their future economic security and long term financial wellbeing, they told us…
“How do I ensure I’m covered for my elder years as I have inadequate savings and super to survive off.”
“Will I be able to thrive in my retirement.”
“Will I be able to maintain a business that covers all my future needs and wants especially into my retirement years.”
“Will I have enough personal super (in my name) to retire off comfortably/”
“How do I know who I should talk to or trust, and who will relate to me in a way I can understand.”
When we asked our Sisters to finish this sentence – “Economic security to me looks like…”
“Having a house and enough money in my bank account for at least 1 years worth of expenses.”
“Having the freedom to take sick leave and annual leave without it affecting my business.”
“Being able to access loans when needed so my future through my business can continue to grow”.
“My business creating an income that meets my needs and I can harmoniously live without the worry associated with increasingly higher costs of living.”
“$10k in my working business account, my taxes put aside, PAYG covered, regularly paying myself a wage, my superannuation and retirement savings contributions up to date, and a full 12 month financial forecast of my expected business costs and income.”
It’s clear, from her stories told, that the problems are widespread and in particular prohibit women from progressing along the path towards financial independence via self-employment, and start-up businesses. So what are the ways forward?
KEEN TO SEE CHANGE? HERE’S HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED.
Listen to Her: We’ve been actively listening and engaging with women in microbusiness as to what they need from the Formal Financial Sector to enable them to get started, grow, accelerate and thrive! If you know a woman in microbusiness, take time out to ask her of the intersection between her business journey so far and her lived experiences engaging with the formal financial sector.
Advocate for Her: Global Sisters is convening the 2023 Financial Services Provider Forum – Fixing Finance for Women in Micro Business hosted by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) on the 18th of April. This Forum will kick start our public efforts to take our community’s collective voice forward into an intentional collaborative industry design space, where together we might rethink and re-imagine what it might take to design and put in place the right scaffolding for women to achieve long term economic security and financial well being through the vehicle of microbusiness.
If you are a stakeholder within the financial services sector and interested in attending this event, find out more here: https://globalsisters.org/2023-financial-services-providers-forum/