Women's Enterprise Scotland launches microfund

Women's Enterprise Scotland launches microfund

Women's Enterprise Scotland (WES) is celebrating International Women’s Day with the launch of a new microfinance fund to support small start-up businesses.

Officially launched at the “Empowering Women through Education, Employment and Enterprise” event today (8 March), the scheme will allow women to access small grants of up to £250.

According to the latest research by WES, Just over 20% of Scottish SMEs are majority owned by women.

Currently, these women-led businesses contribute more than £5bn towards the Scottish economy but if rates of women-led businesses equalled that of men, the contribution to Scotland’s GVA would increase to £13bn.

Of the Scottish SMEs owned by women, the overwhelming majority are also microbusinesses, employing 10 staff (full andor part time) or less, mainly sole traders or small private limited companies and most have an annual turnover of £50,000 or less.

Margaret Gibson, Women’s Enterprise Scotland CEO, said: “Our research consistently shows that the lack of access to finance is a persistent barrier which limits women’s ability to start or expand their businesses and to fully participate in economic, social, and political life.

“This in turn holds back women, their families, communities and entire economies. Our Microfinance Fund will provide support to women who are facing particular economic challenges and provide them with small test trading grants to explore the viability of their new business idea.”

Microfinance initiatives are widely used in India, Africa and Asia and have a track record of promoting both financial resilience as well as reaching and empowering marginalised groups.

They are also becoming more widespread in the UK as an effective way to encourage entrepreneurialism amongst harder to reach groups.