Female business owners are joining a powerful new online network, which launched on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day and is being led by ten Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) Ambassadors.
Each business is featured on the new-look WES website, which has a strong UK and international reach, and business owners are invited to participate in a range of activities designed to create dialogue and peer learning, such as twitter chat at #WESchat.
The ambassadors are Scottish businesswomen from a diverse range of sectors and geographies, who have come together to inspire, motivate, engage and connect with women-led start-up and growth businesses.
Women-led businesses contribute more than £5bn towards the Scottish economy but we know that if rates of women-led businesses equalled that of men, the contribution to Scotland’s GVA would increase to £13 bn. However, a recent WES survey revealed that over 80% of existing entrepreneurial businesswomen in Scotland want to grow their businesses and are actively seeking access to enterprise support, finance and market opportunities. Integral to that support is the presence of appropriate and accessible role models and mentors, and this new network is an important step towards that goal.
The survey also found that the majority of women are running microbusinesses, employing fewer than ten staff, and personal savings were the main source of business finance in the last twelve months for this group, with only 12% accessing public funds. The general perception was that investment for future business growth was more problematic.
In addition, respondents indicated a clear preference for flexible business support, where a selection of services were available rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
The survey of women-owned businesses was designed to provide insights into the current business environment in Scotland, with a particular focus on each of the key action areas contained within the Framework and Action Plan for Women’s Enterprise, which was launched in March 2014 by Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Angela Constance MSP.
Attending the launch, Ms Constance said: "Tackling the gender-gap in enterprise is a key commitment of this Government and a significant focus of Scotland CAN DO, our national statement of intent towards becoming a world-leading entrepreneurial and innovative nation. It is encouraging to see that rates of women participating in enterprise have been increasing in recent years. These survey results underline the need for the collaborative work of the Women in Enterprise Implementation Group. By working together we will continue to improve the diversity and quality of support that is available. This will ensure that all of Scotland’s people are better enabled to take part in and benefit from economic activity, delivering a truly CAN DO Scotland."
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