International Women’s Day has passed, but I’m still left behind.

Although the IWD has become a particularly powerful platform for women in philanthropic roles in Australia, I can’t help but feel that the accolades for women entrepreneurs aren’t circulating at the same pace. While there is no doubt that our philanthropic efforts should be celebrated, women should be recognized as more than just caregivers to society.

Because in doing so, we are leaving behind many pioneering women in business who continue to overcome significant obstacles to success.

Over the past decade, women have emerged as a mainstay of innovation and pioneers of successful startups.

Take Melanie Perkins, Janine Allis and Kate Morris for example. These women, among many others, have shown investors how brilliant women are as key financial decision makers and business leaders.

In fact, the entrepreneurial path is paved with brave, risk-taking and smart women, and we’re seeing that determination shine through in Australia’s startup ecosystem more than ever.

The Beginnings of a Boys Club for Australia’s Startup Sector

When I think back to 2010, just over a decade ago, Australia’s innovation and tech industries were boys’ clubs, full of generational biases and blokey cultures.

Venture capitalists simply weren’t interested in companies founded by women, and the cutthroat culture of the private equity and investment banking worlds thought the same.

While there were promising signs on the horizon – such as the founding of the Melbourne Angels investor network by Jordan Green in 2007 – many older men, steeped in prejudice around women’s participation, were still in the end. responsible for the success of women’s businesses.

In an incredibly challenging environment, I, along with Carol Schwartz, Annette Kimmitt and Laura McKenzie, launched Scale Investors – a female-focused angel investor network dedicated to investing in exceptional female founders. We were determined to avoid being perceived as a philanthropic organization – which seemed normal. We wanted investors and founders to succeed commercially and therefore build an economic ecosystem that supports investors and founders on their financial journeys.

Our main challenges were educating our investors on why they should have confidence in investing in a female-led portfolio and creating a safe and supportive place for investors and founders to learn and succeed.

We received support from the Victorian Government and LaunchVic and slowly and quickly momentum was built. The founders and their investors were socially legitimized and now we celebrate them.

Celebrate structural and social change

Today, the change we are seeing is structural – the way we work is changing, decades of prejudice are breaking down and we have unleashed Australia’s innovation potential through women.

In the traditionally male-dominated investor landscape, VCs now invest gender-neutral in startups, recognizing the qualities of female founders that set them apart from their male counterparts. While family offices include startups in their investment portfolios.

There are also accelerators, incubators, angel investor groups, and women-specific investor groups, as well as a plethora of education and training opportunities, such as VC Catalyst and Scale Investors’ Startup. ed.

At the same time, investments are made by the government. Here in Victoria, LaunchVic, the state’s startup agency, launches businesses through Victoria’s $120 million Startup Capital Fund, the Breakthrough Victoria Fund and of course the Alice Anderson Fund, which I’m proud to preside.

Why I plead on behalf of Alice Anderson

Named after the founder of Australia’s first all-female car garage in the 1920s, the Alice Anderson Fund is a $10 million flanking fund that supports startups led by women. The fund co-invests between $50,000 and $300,000 in seed deals offered by investors to increase the pool of funding available to Victorian women. Our investment is structured so that only 85 cents of the dollar is considered equity; the rest is provided as a non-dilutive grant, giving our female-led startups an extra edge.

With every dollar matching three dollars of private investment, the Alice Fund is expected to unlock nearly $40 million for female founders by 2024. Interestingly, during my time at Scale and now with Alice, we’ve had to think about what would happen if we didn’t. You didn’t have a strong pipeline of female founders or if the quality wasn’t there…but it turned out to be quite the opposite.

In just 8 months of running the Alice Fund, I’m thrilled to say that we’ve invested in six amazing women-founded startups (Hex, Steppen, Team Timbuktu, Milkdrop, Talkiplay and mtime) investing over $1 million dollars in funding and unlocking more than $3.2 million in capital from private investors. This came from a variety of investors, including VCs like Giant Leap, private investors, and angel groups like Scale and Angel Partners.

As the IWD fades away for another year, I hope the bold, daring and smart women who make up a significant part of Australia’s rapidly growing tech and innovation sector will be celebrated more frequently and with more marching band.

It is time for them too to receive the accolades they so easily deserve.