19-22 September, 2023
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GEC 2023: The Challenges of Diversity and Entrepreneurship

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The premise of the entrepreneurial mindset is that anyone, anywhere, can utilise it. But is this spirit of inclusiveness experienced equally by diverse founders? If not, how do we truly open entrepreneurship up to anyone, anywhere?

Diverse founders and entrepreneurs face a unique set of challenges on their path to success.

We spoke to thought leaders and #GEC2023 speakers on the pressing issues facing diverse communities, and the strategies to tackle them head-on.

The challenges of trust, validation and traction

Cultural factors, lack of local knowledge, language barriers, limited access to support networks, and constrained capital can create formidable barriers for aspiring entrepreneurs.

According to Kim Ly Nguyen, social entrepreneur with Global Ideas Lab, these hurdles can hinder the establishment of trust in partnerships, validation of business models, and the critical process of gaining traction in the market for sustainable growth.

“Top issues we can tackle to immediately move the dial include creating funding opportunities specifically for diverse entrepreneurs like flexible grant eligibility criteria, and government tender and social procurement opportunities for diverse-led businesses,” Nguyen said.

Facilitating connections to potential clients or customers and support networks would also make a big difference to diverse founder successes.

The role of mentors and networks

Access to capital, lack of role models, and lack of networks for diverse communities in entrepreneurship are key challenges to overcome, according to Usman Iftikhar, CEO of Catalysr.

An Australian startup accelerator, Catalysr focusses on high performing migrant and refugee entrepreneurs – migrapreneurs’. Iftikhar knows that sustained success comes from existing solutions.

“[We need to] highlight stories of diverse entrepreneurs and create role models for the future generations [and provide] opportunities for mentoring and networking for learning and collaboration,” Iftikhar said.

Added to this is a need for targeted investment in diverse entrepreneurs and funds supporting them, particularly at the early stage, where the bias against a founding team can be a critical factor against getting the initial pre-seed or seed funding.

Access to funding, technology and resources

There’s a pressing need to address funding disparities, representation gaps, and bias within entrepreneurship.

In Australia, 0.7% of start-up funding went to female-founded companies in 2022. In the USA, the figure is 1.9%.

According to Kate Raston, co-founder, We Are Womxn, long-term opportunities hold the key to lasting change in the landscape of diverse entrepreneurship.

“Opportunities in the medium to long term include utilising technology for equality – leveraging technology to create platforms for knowledge sharing, networking, and skill-building can empower diverse entrepreneurs to thrive in the digital age,” said Raston.

“Collaborating with policymakers and industry stakeholders to advocate for equitable policies and practices will also drive systemic changes that benefit diverse entrepreneurship communities.” 

Register now for #GEC2023 and learn from a diverse range of experts around the world. From invite-only summits to practical workshops, buy your ticket now.

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