I’m delighted to start 2022 off by being announced as one of an incredible group of women as a Women’s Enterprise Scotland Ambassador.
By doubling women-owned businesses to 40% of SME’s would add another £8.8bn to the Scottish economy every year. With the other Ambassadors we are essential to helping Scotland unlock these mission billions for our economy.
In surveys undertaken by Women’s Enterprise Scotland since 2014, role models have been consistently highlighted by respondents as a crucial resource in supporting women in business.
By being a #WESAmbassadors I can help share the diverse entrepreneurship stories of the other ambassadors to help more women start-up and grow their businesses.
Some of the stats that Women’s Enterprise Scotland have shared so far need to be changed for the positive going forward.
Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) was established in 2012 as a not-for-profit Community Interest Company (CIC) working to close the gender gap in enterprise participation. The WES vision is for Scotland to be world leading in its approach to supporting women business owners, enabling equal access to resources and opportunities as they develop successful and sustainable businesses.
The WES Ambassador programme was launched in 2014 and brings together over 60 female entrepreneurs from across Scotland, with businesses of all sizes and across all sectors. WES Ambassadors are visible, relatable role models for women who are considering starting a business or are growing an existing business.
51% of start-ups in Scotland are now women-led (Business Gateway Report 2019 – 2020), yet majority women-owned businesses are just 20% of SMEs in Scotland (ONS 2015) and just 14% of SME employer businesses (Small Business Survey Scotland, 2019)
Women owned businesses contribute £8.8bn Gross Value Add into the Scottish economy and have created over 230,000 jobs. (FSB 2018) As a sector, women-owned businesses contribute more GVA than Sustainable Tourism (£4.1bn), Food & Drink (£5.6bn) and Creative Industries (£4.6bn). (Growth Sector Statistics, Scottish Government, Sept 2021) Doubling women-owned businesses to 40% of SME’s would add another £8.8bn to the Scottish economy every year.
Women have fundamentally different experiences to men in business. Outcomes are worst for Black and Asian and Other Ethnic Minority women. 37% of black women entrepreneurs did not make a profit last year compared to 16% of white male entrepreneurs (Alone, Together: Entrepreneurship and Diversity in the UK, British Business Bank 2020) Challenges faced by women include access to finance, disproportionate caring responsibilities and access to networks, mentoring and role models (Alison Rose Review 2019)
Covid-19 has presented enormous challenges for women-owned businesses. As small businesses with limited resources, these businesses are especially vulnerable to the disruption caused by the pandemic. (WES Covid19 Policy Brief 2, 2020). Of the women business owners surveyed in December 2020, three-quarters found managing their businesses stressful during the pandemic, compared to just over half their male peers. (Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship Update, 2021)
WES launched the digital Women’s Business Centre in 2020 during the pandemic (www.womensbusinesscentre.com). The first platform of its kind, it provides expert, gendered support and guidance for women across Scotland, supported by Royal Bank of Scotland. It is free to access and offers dedicated, needs-based content for women starting and growing businesses.
In 2021 WES launched its Manifesto for Change, focusing on the critical importance of developing and supporting women’s enterprise as part of Scotland’s future economic prosperity. Key priorities for change include advocating for a more gender equal economy, enabling greater access to finance and establishing a women’s business centre model. Shortly after the manifesto launch, the Scottish National Party committed to a £50m investment in a women’s business centre model, a commitment which has now been confirmed by the Scottish Government.
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