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About Time: The CCO is funding Women of Colour founders in Australia

The first start-up program of its kind, Anyone Can, just finished Cohort 2

The Creative Co-Operative's startup program exclusively for Bla(c)K Women and Women of Colour, Anyone Can, wrapped up its second cohort in one year last night at Stone and Chalk, Melbourne, with a glorious pitch competition.

With six final teams competing for the cash prize of $10K, the competition was judged by four judges in a hybrid setting. Around 50 attendees - predominantly women of colour startup founders - were present in the room, cheering on finalists for their ideas that ranged from ensuring direct access to health specialists, low-sugar soda drinks and making dating scenes more accessible. 

The six finalists for Anyone Can Cohort 2 were Carolina Ferreira from Octopusbot, Rachel Castelino from Blume, Regina Cheah and Ling Miao from Alle Lane, Valerie Weyland from Brown Girl Bloom, Lisa Watson from Pure Vibes Dating and Dr Kyal Agraval. 

The judging panel included Rupal Ismin, Director, Sydney Knowledge Hub, Bec Milgrom, Executive Director of Tripple, Caroline Tran, Co-Founder & CEO at Hello Clever and Adelide Mutinda, Innovation Manager at Humanitech, Australian Red Cross. 


(From L to R) Jugde Bec Milgrom, Winner Dr Kyal Agraval, Jugde Adelide Mutinda and The CCO's founder Priyanka Ashraf


Addressing the audience, Adelide acknowledged the abundance of women of colour in the room, saying, "Usually, you're the only person of colour in such set-ups. It's so wonderful to see people from all different backgrounds tonight."

Priyanka Ashraf, the founder of The Creative Co-Operative, believes Bla(c)k Women and Women of Colour must access and advance past the starting line of the startup ecosystem.

"We have identified early-stage Bla(c)k Women and Women of Colour founders accessed just 0.03% of all VC funding invested in Aussie startups last year - compared to 22% that went to all women founders," Priyanka has shared. 

So, why are women of colour startup founders not funded adequately? The CCO's research also demonstrates that the pandemic less impacted startups of its founders compared to startups of the general population - making them a less risky investment - turning the stereotypical bias on its head. 

To fund more women of colour founders in Australia, The CCO last night funded $10K cash prize for the winner and a surprise funding of $2.5K to the runner up. After solid pitching from the finalists, Dr Kyal Agraval won the first prize, followed by Rachel Castelino from Blume. Agraval is developing an online platform that helps you find a health specialist fast based on location, expertise and gender. When asked why the difficult access to specialists hasn't been solved yet, Kyal was quick to say, "Because I haven't had a go at it yet!"

Naturally, the crowd cheered.


South Asian Today's founder, Dilpreet Kaur (L) with The CCO's Priyanka Ashraf (R)

Speaking to South Asian Today, Kyal said, "The funding will kickstart my idea, and we could go live in just the next three months". 

Rachel's pre-biotic toner, Blume, is low in sugar and high in fibre. While Rachel joined via Zoom, her drink was in almost everyone's hands in the room. Started just last month, Blume has already been stocked with ten distributors. "We have two flavour rights now, Mango and Raspberry-Lime. We're already working on the third one!" Rachel shares.  

The event closed with Priyanka thanking their sponsors, Heaps Good and Tripple, with attendees networking, making new connections and connecting with old ones over food and drinks. 

If you're a Bla(c)k Woman or a Woman of Colour founder, apply for The Creative Co-Operative's Cohort 3, Anyone Can, by expressing your interest here.


Photos by Jessica D'cruze.

About the author

Dilpreet is the founder of South Asian Today. More about her can be found here.




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