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Major bank launches loans for female-led SMEs

by Annie Kane11 minute read

New start-up and scale-up loans have been announced by a big four bank to support more women in launching and growing small businesses.

Westpac has announced it is bringing in new loans for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) run by women to help more female-led small businesses get off the ground.

Over the coming weeks, ‘Start-up’ and ‘Scale-up’ loans will be available to female-led start-ups and businesses.

Start-up loans

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Available to female-led start-ups that have been operating for less than 12 months, the Start-up loans offer unsecured loans of between $10,000 and $50,000 for up to three years.

Businesses will need to provide “a sound business plan and budget projections” to access funding, the bank said, instead of the typical two years of financials.

It is hoped that the funding will help new female-run businesses get started.

Scale-up loans

Meanwhile, female-led businesses that have been operating for less than three years will be able to access the Scale-up loans, which offer both secured and unsecured loans ranging between $10,000 and $1 million per business, with loan terms of up to three years.

Businesses will need to have been in operation for less than three years and will need to submit one year of financials to access funding, rather than two.

The Scale-up loans aim to help businesses grow and are available to both new and existing Westpac customers.

Speaking of the incoming loan products ahead of International Women’s Day (8 March), Westpac Group chief executive, consumer & business banking, Chris de Bruin, said the two new loans were part of a total $500-million commitment to back more women in business.

It came after the bank commissioned a survey of 500 Australian SMEs (conducted online between 14 to 20 December 2022), which revealed that accessing finance was one of many challenges faced by female business owners.

Noting that businesses established by women were still “underrepresented” in Australia, Mr de Bruin commented: “Access to capital is not a level playing field, so we’re committing to supporting more businesses led by women.

“This is about backing early-stage businesses with great ideas and providing opportunity so they can succeed.

“Boosting women’s entrepreneurship in Australia is important to the economy. The longstanding gender pay gap represents a missed opportunity for innovation, social and economic value creation, and job creation.”

The bank’s chief executive, consumer & business banking added: “A diverse and inclusive workforce generates tangible benefits, such as increased efficiency, productivity, innovation, creativity, and improved employee engagement.

“This announcement is key to our broader strategy of supporting more customers and backing the businesses of tomorrow,” Mr de Bruin said.

[Related: Proportion of female brokers drops to new low]

chris de bruin reb

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