More than 50 local female-led businesses have snared a share of $250,000 under the inaugural Lord Mayor’s Women in Business Grant program to help them combat the impacts of the pandemic and grow their business.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the 54 grant recipients range from theatre company operators to a Colombian café providing food to the disadvantaged.

“We are dedicated to being the most small business-friendly local government in Australia so increasing the number of Brisbane women starting their own business is an important part of that,” Cr Schrinner said.

“At the moment, women are behind 35 per cent of our small businesses and we want to see that number improve which is why we introduced this new grant.

“However, there are many success stories of women starting businesses out there and these grants are a way of helping them grow.”

Cr Schrinner said more than 80 per cent of the grant recipients were businesses wholly owned by women while 31 per cent have a turnover of between $50,000 and $100,000.

“The Women in Business Grants will help these women grow their businesses by expanding their product offerings, increasing their marketing activities, purchasing critical business equipment or getting professional advice from other local suppliers,” he said.

“Women business owners are integral to the ongoing success of our city’s economy and as we continue to recover from the global coronavirus pandemic these grants will provide a much-needed boost.

“This grant will help owners not only keep their business operating, but also allow them to diversify while creating long-lasting economic impact across Brisbane.”

Civic Cabinet Chair for Economic Development Councillor Krista Adams said the inaugural Women in Business grants had attracted strong applications from a range of women-led businesses.

Cr Adams said 26 per cent of applications were from the manufacturing, construction and utilities sector, 22 per cent from education, training and administration sectors, 19 per cent from the sports, recreation, medical or health industries and 11 per cent each from the retail, food and beverage and the arts sector.

“In the past decade female employment in Queensland has grown approximately 2.1 per cent with more than 1.2 million women employed across the state,” Cr Adams said.

“Brisbane is Australia’s most small business friendly city, and we are committed to continuing to support all our business owners, especially our women.”

Grant recipient, wedding and formal designer JK Couture Designs, said funding would go toward purchasing an embroidery machine and extended sash frame set, allowing the business to expand their latest foray JK Retro Dresses.

Owner of JK Couture Designs, Joanne Hasson, said the impacts of Covid-19 on their bespoke bridal and couture fashion lines forced the designer to pivot to a more affordable retro range of designs to meet a changing economy.

“Introducing our popular JK Retro Dresses range has illustrated that a couture business can not only survive during a pandemic, but evolve into a sustainable and ongoing operation,” Joanne said.

“Funding from this Grant, plus our creative and innovative thinking, will help our business continue to design affordable fashion to our Brisbane clients and open new avenues with our Brisbane Made Designs to the rest of Australia.”

Ongoing support will also be extended to all grant applicants via free membership to the Brisbane Business Hub to access business thought leaders, key workshops and events focused on combatting a number of barriers highlighted in Grant applications encompassing financial literacy, social media and marketing, procurement and networking opportunities.

To be eligible for the funding, the successful recipients had to meet various criteria, including holding a minimum 50 per cent ownership in the business and demonstrate how grant funding of up to $5000 would assist their business increase revenue, drive profit, create jobs, and illustrate a commitment to sustainability.

The Women in Business Grant is an initiative of Brisbane Economic Development Agency (BEDA) and is facilitated by Brisbane Business Hub (BBH). To date, the Brisbane Business Hub has supported more than 7,000 businesses through skills development, networking and collaboration.

Full list of winners: