Home Telecoms & NBN Fast broadband boosts female entrepreneurship, says NBN Co
Fast broadband boosts female entrepreneurship, says NBN Co Featured

Fast-broadband connectivity is contributing to a boom in female entrepreneurship and giving women more flexibility to choose where and how they work, according to a new research report.

The Connecting Australia Enterprising Women Report, commissioned by the company building the national broadband network, NBN Co, reveals that more Australian women are choosing to become their own bosses, with self-employed women in NBN network-connected regions growing on average 2.3% a year – or 20 times the pace of growth in the number of self-employed women in areas not yet connected to the NBN.

Touted as the first national economic and social study to understand the impact of the NBN broadband access network on the lives of Australians and the economy, the research was undertaken by independent research agency AlphaBeta, and combines national census data with an Ipsos survey of 3500 individuals across 1700 postcodes in metropolitan, regional and remote areas.

And, the research reveals that faster growth in female self-employment in regional NBN-connected regions compared to metropolitan equivalents.

Key Enterprising Women findings include:

  •  Enhanced workplace flexibility: The number of self-employed women working from home grew on average at twice the pace in NBN-connected regions, compared to all other self-employed people in non-NBN network regions. Up to 830 women were self-employed women working from home due to the NBN effect last year. Up to 52,200 additional women are expected to be self-employed by 2021, attributable to the NBN access network.
  • More opportunities for part-time work: The number of self-employed women working part-time grew on average five times the pace in regions connected to the NBN network compared to non-NBN regions. There were up to 3400 self-employed women working part-time with the help of the NBN network in 2017.
  • Greater female entrepreneurship in regional areas: In areas of regional Australia connected to the NBN network, female self-employment grew by an average of 2.4% a year compared to 1.5% annual growth in metropolitan NBN areas. In non-NBN  areas, female self-employment in regional Australia actually contracted 0.8% a year on average while in metro non-NBN areas female self-employment only grew 0.4% – just under a third of the pace of NBN-connected metro-areas.
  • More participation: In non-NBN network areas, self-employment by women who did not finish year 12 contracted by an average of 3.9% a year. But in NBN network-connected regions, the number of self-employed women who left school early remained steady. Up to 2100 women who didn’t finish school are estimated to be self-employed with the help of the NBN network.

 “Whether it’s cutting out the long commute, getting connected to the workforce sooner after having a child, or finding new opportunities for work from regional Australia, fast broadband is supporting new ways that women are engaging with the workforce,” said  NBN Co chief executive Stephen Rue.

 “We know flexible working arrangements and self-employment are attractive. Ninety-two per cent of self-employed women are mothers and 80 per cent of self-employed women have dependent children. The NBN network is helping to provide real opportunities for women to find that balance between an engaging career and family life.

“Opportunities for self-employment for women in regional areas can be limited. However the Connecting Australia Enterprising Women research shows faster growth in female self-employment in regional-connected regions compared to metropolitan equivalents. It also found NBN network connectivity encourages more women who didn’t finish high school to run their own business, defying an otherwise negative trend of shrinking female self-employment for non-school leavers.”

According to Naomi Simson, founder of online gift retailer RedBalloon and co-founder of the  Big Red Group Co-Founder, “when self-employed women in regional communities become true ‘entrepreneurs’ or business owners - employing others in the local community -  “that's when the real value and impact will be amplified even further”.

“I’ve visited and addressed crowds in places from Mt Isa to Shepparton, Tasmania to Bundaberg – and the number one thing I’ve noticed and been excited to see shifting more and more is the ability for so many locals to enjoy an incredible lifestyle while maintaining employment, largely through remote working.

“They may commute weekly or a few times a month to conduct face-to-face business meetings in the major cities, but the rest of the time they’re raising families in small country towns and rural areas; their lifestyles enabled by technology and connection via initiatives like the NBN.”

To access NBN Co’s Connecting Australia website click here.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).


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