Money, mentoring, and the support of your peers

Suzanne Winterflood
Money, mentoring, and the support of your peers

First, a couple of statistics that make grim reading for any ambitious Kiwi woman:

New Zealand’s glass ceiling is stubbornly refusing to shatter. The Grant Thornton International Business Report reveals that, over the past ten years, the number of females in senior roles has remained unchanged at 31 percent. Meanwhile, the gender pay gap still exists. Women earn, on average, around 13% less than men for doing the same work.

No wonder women are creating opportunities for themselves and starting their own businesses. Last year, according to the MYOB Business Monitor, 41% of all SMEs were female owned and operated, up from 37% in 2010.

This year, those same women are outperforming their male counterparts, with almost three-quarters rating their business as successful compared with 68% of men. They’re earning just as much, if not more, than males, and the majority (60%) are happy with their work/life balance.

So if you’re keen to join them, and have a smart business idea you want to turn into reality, here are some of the people and organisations that can help you succeed.


Crowdfunding. New Zealanders are increasingly trying the crowdfunding approach to raise money for new products and businesses. And it transpires that being female gives you a significant advantage. A recent study, Gender Dynamics In Crowdfunding, analysed the projects that achieved their fundraising targets on Kickstarter. The success rate for women was 69.5%, compared to 61.4% for men – largely because 44% of Kickstarter investors are women, and they’re more likely to fund other women.

In an interesting twist given the gender imbalance in the sector, about two thirds of technology ventures led by women reached their fund raising goals on Kickstarter compared with 30% of those led by men.

Pledge Me and Snowball Effect are two local crowdfunding options.

Regional Business Partners. New Zealand Trade & Enterprise and Callaghan Innovation have partnered with 14 Regional Business Partners to help local businesses expand and innovate.

Funding of up to $5,000 may be available for training and advice from accredited providers, along with research and development grants. has full details.

Angel investors. Arc Angels invest exclusively in New Zealand start-ups that are led or managed by women. As well as financial support, their investors offer invaluable guidance and experience.

Your bank. Of course, you should also go to see your bank’s business specialist for assistance with business loans, overdraft facilities, equipment finance and more.

Mentoring and networking

The Venus Network is “designed to help women in business achieve profitable, sustainable growth”. There are 40 Venus networking groups around New Zealand, and members can also access a team of respected business mentors.

The New Zealand Federation of Business and Professional Women is dedicated to enabling, inspiring and empowering women. Their services include advocacy, personal development, mentoring and educational programmes.

From Women Entrepreneurs Week to a Hall of Fame featuring business legends like Sharon Hunter and Anne Norman, co.ofwomen champions success. To budding entrepreneurs, they say: “Welcome to your community. Every one of us has been where you are now, and we’ve got a heck of a lot to share.”

Information resources

For expert advice on every aspect of starting and running your own business, check out Professionelle.

The Wellington City Libraries website has a section dedicated to women in business, with a comprehensive list of resources, contacts and recommended reading. 


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