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Leading women exporters in the trade game

19 May, 2006

Who are the Hockeyroos, Opals and Libby Lenton’s of the Australian exporter community? Like our women sports stars, there are quite a few of them but they are perhaps not as celebrated as they could be.

Tim Harcourt, chief economist, Australian Trade Commission

As in sports (especially hockey), there’s quite a few Western Australians in their ranks. For instance, Marie Stoner is a leading WA research scientist who now runs Clinical Cell Culture (3C), a major bio-medical exporter. Dr. Stoner, whose background is in haematology, developed the company’s product line with Fiona Wood, a plastic surgeon and burn specialist. The company’s main product, Cell Spray was crucial to helping treat the burns of the Bali victims – many of whom came from the West. The company is progressively building its international profile and now exports to hospitals in the UK and New Zealand.

Another West Australian, Mary Nenke, runs Cambinata Yabbies based in Kukerin, near Wagin. Mary switched to yabbies in the face of drought conditions. Cambinata, which first exported in response to overseas interest in the company’s website, exports over 60 per cent of its produce overseas and its supply base, consists on 500 farms in WA, 90 percent of which are run by women.

On the east coast, Amanda Hicks is a director of Autobake, which designs and manufactures industrial baking systems. Autobake’s biggest market is the US and the company has had to take on events in the past like September 11, as well as fluctuations in the exchange rate. But as Ms. Hicks has emphasised: “In exporting you don’t always get a quick result. It’s a long term investment”.

In anticipation of more talent to come, Austrade has set up a Women in Export program. There are over 19,000 women export executives and CEOs in Australia, but there is plenty more talent out there. Accordingly, the Women in Export program is dedicated to removing barriers to export for women entrepreneurs and to raise the ‘intention to export’ amongst women-lead companies. It is just like an Australian Institute of Sport program for exporters.

The Women in Export program encourages networking and mentoring amongst women exporters and business groups to raise awareness of Austrade programs such as the New Exporter Development (NED) Program and Export Market Development Grants (EMDG).

In conclusion, as we have cheered our leading women sports stars on the field and in the pool in the Commonwealth Games, let’s do the same thing for our women exporters. 

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