Women are starting and building small businesses in Australia in “staggering” numbers, but they can’t do it alone, said The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs during the launch of Inspiring Rare Birds’ Ambassador Program in Canberra.
Minister Bishop and The Hon Michael McCormack MP, Minister For Small Business were guest speakers at the event to welcome Rare Birds’ newly appointed ambassadors for Canberra: Stefanee Lovett, the Managing Director of Capital Hill Advisory; Amanda Whitley, the Founder and Director of HerCanberra, and Mick Spencer, the Founder and CEO of ONTHEGO Sports.
Minister Bishop said she felt sure the program would provide “amazing results” in the capital. “The number of women who are starting, running, building small businesses is absolutely staggering, but they do need support,” she said.
The event was held in Parliament House and attended by more than 150 guests, including Senator Bridget McKenzie, Senator For Victoria.
Minister Bishop, who is also Australia’s first female Foreign Minister and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, said she had made the empowerment of women a pillar of the federal government’s foreign policy and aid programs. “We know that if women are given opportunities to shine they can drive economic growth, prosperity and stability around the world,” she said.
She applauded Inspiring Rare Birds’ Founder and CEO Jo Burston for creating an organisation that is, “committed to supporting and providing advice to female entrepreneurs through education and training”.
She said this aligned with what government was seeking to do through the national innovation and science agenda, “giving support to female entrepreneurs in the science, technology and mathematics fields, and beyond”.
“Women are by nature, by ability and capacity, great entrepreneurs,” she said.
Minister Bishop said she also believed “explicitly in the power of mentorship”.
“I’ve seen specific examples of how mentoring programs can lead to some extraordinary outcomes,” she said. “I know that your organisation is committed to providing female entrepreneurs with that level of support, will drive that spirit of enterprise, individualism, entrepreneurialism that I believe is the future of economic growth and prosperity in this country.”
Minister Michael McCormack said women were under-represented as entrepreneurs, in startups and tech fields, and in the investment sector. “The number of Australian women operating their own businesses has steadily increased over the past 20 years, but in line with other OECD countries, they remain under-represented as entrepreneurs,” he said.
He described Rare Birds’ vision to see a global community of one million women entrepreneurs by 2020 as “admirable”. “It’s inspiring to see both male and female leaders within the Rare Birds’ network building momentum and encouraging women to pursue their business and innovative ideas.”
“It’s this kind of vision which will make a difference and have far and wide-reaching benefits,” he said.
Photos from Inspiring Rare Birds Ambassador launch in Canberra. Selected images by photographer Martin Ollman. To book him for your next event you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org