Some commentators might deem it fair to say that the equity markets reacted faster to the pandemic than the federal government.

As the government downplayed the threat on 13 March 2020, the S&P/ASX 200 had already halved in value. For the first time ever, some dividends that had already been announced were abruptly cancelled as venture capitalists bunkered down for impending doom. 

Clearly spooked, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission rushed through a series of new regulations to make it easier to raise capital, introduced emergency fundraising relief and lobbied major financial institutions to abort any dividend payments so they were better equipped for the grim months to come.

However, those grim months didn’t exactly live down to expectations and within a few weeks, companies were quickly issuing new stock. 

By the end of the year, more companies than ever before had raised equity worth nearly A$40 billion, meaning the industry actually saw a slight rise on 2019. Despite a dip in 2021, market analyst IBISWorld predicts a buoyant few years ahead, driven by technology and life sciences, and boosted by foreign capital.




Finding himself stranded 12,000 kilometres from home, Ryan Edwards-Prichard ditched his career plans and formed fintech startup Cape to secure working capital for struggling businesses.

“Back in September 2019 I handed in my notice as Managing Director of Funding Options, a digital marketplace for business finance, so I could focus all my attention on building a new challenger bank in Europe that I was going to call Cape,” he tells The CEO Magazine. “I had to see out a six-month notice period and was coming out to Australia for a friend’s wedding in November, so when I was put on gardening leave, I decided to extend my stay until March 2020.

“When the pandemic hit and lockdowns were in full swing, I pivoted the focus of the startup – and my life – to Australia. I haven’t looked back since!”

In between surfing off the beach of his new hometown, Manly, NSW, Edwards-Prichard launched Cape as a small and medium-size enterprise finance fintech with a mission to help firms secure working capital. His family in the UK might not agree, but his timing was impeccable, as COVID-19 served up a mighty wave of demand that he’s still riding. 

“When it came to raising capital, we got two term sheets on the table for our pre-seed,” he says. “One was from Scalare Partners which offered half the dilution of the term sheet we were offered from the Antler program we attended. We also won the NSW minimum viable product grant, which is equity-free.

“Now we’ve grown our waitlist to more than 1,000 companies.”

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