The added challenges for regional women in business created by COVID-19 were high on the agenda when a group of members met the Deputy Premier, Attorney General and Minister for Consumer Affairs Vickie Chapman.
The Women in Business Regional Network received a direct invitation from Ms Chapman’s office for a sitdown meeting in Adelaide’s South so the Minister could be apprised of the specific problems being faced by regional women in business.
In the absence of founder, Carolyn Jeffrey, who was attending events in another part of the state, the delegation was led by Moira Were AM and included Karina Irvine of Kaleidoscopic Travel, Jo Puplett from Elevate Your Look, Sharon Boath from Efficient Small Business Solutions, Carolyn Brow from Pink Perfection Nails & Beauty, Kate Henning from Smiling Samoyed Brewery and Wendy Hardy from Spice Girlz.
Each of the members has been impacted differently by the restrictions associated with COVID-19 and not all have been able to access funding from state or federal government organisations.
In a statement following the meeting Ms Chapman’s office said praised the women for their resilience during the pandemic.
“These women in business have demonstrated determination and resilience in challenging times with a strong willingness to keep their businesses going,” Ms Chapman’s office said.
“Their support for one another was most apparent and by sticking together, has given them the confidence to continue to move forward.”
The Deputy Premier said she was pleased to attend and hear the Women in Business Regional Network’s stories that have impacted their business models and how they are managing them.
Moira said she believed Ms Chapman had given the delegation a good hearing and had walked away with a better understanding of the issues being faced by regional women in business. Ms Chapman took notes throughout the meeting.
Carolyn said the invitation was recognition of the growing profile for the network and was a great opportunity for regional businesswomen to have their voice heard.
“Many of our members and followers fall below the $75,000 turnover threshold for the State Government’s COVID-19 Emergency Funds,” she said.
“Last year when we undertook a snapshot of our followers more than 59 per cent were sole traders without employees, so they also didn’t qualify for cashflow assistance from the Federal Government.
“Quite a number work part-time while trying to get their businesses established, so didn’t qualify for JobKeeper as a sole trader either.
“Others struggled with accessing JobKeeper as they had spent significant time and effort building up their businesses towards the end of 2019 and so they had difficulty meeting downturn criteria. Some in this situation had also left employment at the start of 2020 on the back of their business growth in the last quarter of 2019, only to have their income taken away by COVID-19.”
Carolyn said that although it was exciting to see South Australia emerging from many of the COVID-19 restrictions the recovery for many businesses would be long, and there was also great uncertainty surrounding fears of a second wave and also the impact on the economy when JobKeeper and increased JobSeeker payments end.