Women’s Enterprise Scotland calls for end of gender gap in enterprise

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In the run up to International Women’s Day (Thursday 8 th March), Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) is calling for concerted action to end the gender gap in enterprise.
The call is part of a campaign, calling for an end to the status quo where women-owned businesses form just 20% of Scotland’s business base and less than 5% of account managed growth companies.
WES, the research-led not for profit organisation which focuses on the economic contribution of women-owned businesses, is calling for the Scottish Government and business support agencies to acknowledge the women-owned business sector as a growth sector within the Scottish economy and to invest in realising the significant economic opportunity.
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Women-owned businesses currently contribute £5bn GVA to the Scottish economy, yet if women started up in business at the same rate as men, the economy would be boosted by an additional £7.6bn. Tackling the enterprise gender gap would see women-owned businesses contribute a total of £12.6bn to the economy.
Commenting on the status quo, WES Chair Lynne Cadenhead said “While progress has been made to address gender gaps in employment and in the boardroom, the gender gap in enterprise persists. It is simply not acceptable that many women-owned businesses are unable to access growth and innovation support. Transformative change is needed to create a gender-balanced and forward- thinking business landscape.”
She continued; “In the last week, we have seen the Canadian Government announce a progressive 2018 budget, with sums earmarked for financing for women entrepreneurs; investments in women-led technology firms; provision of gender-specific business support and crucially, proposals on collecting gender-based data on entrepreneurs. Countries which are looking to capitalise on their talent and grow their economies need to think in such innovative, progressive terms or they are consigning the billions which women-led business represent to waste.”
Comparing the £5bn GVA from women-owned businesses to that of the growth sectors in the Scottish economy2 shows:

  • Life Sciences : £1.3bn GVA
  • Sustainable Tourism: £3.8bn GVA
  • Creative Industries (including digital): £4.6bn GVA
  • Food & Drink (including agriculture & fisheries): £5.3bn GVA
  • Energy (including renewables): £16.4bn GVA
  • Financial & Business Services

The existing GVA contribution from women-owned businesses falls squarely within the levels of GVA contribution from the identified growth sectors, with scope for a good deal more growth.
Michelle Smith, WES Ambassador and founder of Value Added Business Solutions said; “I have attended many women in business events which have been a great benefit to me personally and my business. I have built my business skills and knowledge and I have also gained a valuable peer support network. My business has flourished and I now employ several staff. It’s time that more women had access to this type of support.”

Michelle Smith
Michelle Smith

Justine Mitchell, WES Ambassador and founder of Chamomile Sanctuary said; “Starting and growing a business is hard work. It’s so important to be able to access a business support system which understands your needs. Maintaining your confidence and self-belief is vital when facing tough times or decisions. I received help and support from other women when I started up and I now give back by speaking and sharing my experiences to help those starting out. Good support is fundamental for
business growth.”
Justine Mitchell
Justine Mitchell


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