Government program to boost declining number of female exporters

The Federal Government is relying on its upcoming Women in Global Business program to boost the number of female Australian exporters, with research revealing that figure is declining.


Women in Global Business, which was launched late last year, was designed to encourage Australian businesswomen to boost their export operations.


The nationwide program, delivered in the form of a speaker series, acts as a network for women who are successfully exporting, women considering or just starting to export and women in the corporate sector.


According to the program’s national manager Cynthia Balogh the number of Australian female-run businesses that export has been dropping during the past few years.


Sensis research reveals that in 2009 only 9% of female-operated SMEs were exporting, down from 11% in 2007 – they are the most recent statistics that provide a gender breakdown.


“The Women in Global Business program aims to establish the barriers to export and reverse this trend,” Balogh says.


According to Austrade senior economist Tim Harcourt the declining number can be attributed to a pre-GFC peak in female-run businesses in outer suburban areas, typically home-based businesses run by mumpreneurs.


“It was a big surge which is hard to continue at the same high pace. Since then we’ve had the GFC and related global conditions,” he says.


Harcourt believes the nature of exporting is a turn-off for many women.


“Exporting often requires a lot of travelling, which is quite hard on your work and family situation,” he says.


Balogh agrees with Harcourt that women are more inclined to pursue a work/life balance than men, which means exporting becomes less of a priority.


“There is a perception that if you multiply your business by X number of countries, you multiply the amount of work and investment required,” she says.


“What gives – women’s caring responsibilities or their business?”


Balogh believes women are more cautious about their abilities than men and are therefore more risk averse.


“Women don’t like to over assume or over compensate for the fact that they might not succeed,” he says.


Harcourt is confident that the number of female exporters will pick up again as a result of:

  • Growth in middle class consumer societies in Asia and the emerging markets.
  • The NBN and better connectivity conquering the tyranny of distance within Australia, and between Australia and export markets outside Australia.
  • Programs like Women in Global Business, which showcase women in leadership positions.

Balogh says the program will feature a range of a number of speakers including Australian consul-general and trade commissioner in Japan Wendy Holdenson, representatives from Austrade San Francisco, Austrade Japan and local case study speakers.


“These women will provide valuable insights and practical advice on how you can enter global markets and expand your business internationally,” Balogh says.


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