Women’s Enterprise Scotland has launched a new digital platform designed to support women at the pre start-up and start-up stage of their business journey.
Supported by Royal Bank of Scotland Back Her Business, the digital Women’s Business Centre, which is free to access, offers dedicated, needs-based content for women starting up in business. Informed by years of research, it provides support on key topics such as accessing finance, juggling work-life balance, support networks, mentoring and having business start-up ideas taken seriously. There is business guidance alongside practical tips from women who have already started up businesses from all over Scotland, ranging from city centres to rural locations and remote island communities.
WES Chief Executive Carolyn Currie said; “A number of studies have already identified women as one of the groups worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. At a time when many women may not return to the jobs they once held, starting up a business can ensure women utilise their skills and play a leading role in Scotland’s economy.”
The Institute for Fiscal Studies and the UCL Institute of Education recently reported that mothers are 47% more likely to have permanently lost their job or quit and 14% were more likely to have been furloughed since the start of the crisis. Sectors which have been hardest hit by the pandemic include hospitality, retail, travel and personal care such as hairdressing and beauty, all of which employ significant numbers of female workers.
The launch of the Women’s Business Centre comes as gross domestic product (GDP) figures indicate that Scotland is heading towards a recession, following a GDP decline of 5 per cent in March was followed by an 18.9 per cent drop in April.
It also comes in the wake of a recent report by the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Economic Recovery, led by Benny Higgins, which has called for new borrowing powers to plough £6 billion into the country’s recovery from Covid-19. Specific recommendations in the report include a focus on flexible working, the need to ensure people experiencing inequalities are given the opportunity to actively participate in decision making, investment in digital platforms for business support and the creation of a wellbeing economy in Scotland.
Susan Fouquier, Managing Director, Business Banking, Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “Last year’s Rose Review, led by Royal Bank CEO Alison Rose, highlighted the disparity between male and female entrepreneurs and the £250bn in untapped potential for the UK economy which could be achieved if the right mix of support is put in place.
“Royal Bank of Scotland is delighted to support the creation of the Women’s Business Centre and help address some of the unique challenges faced by Scottish female-led businesses, helping maximise their potential and offer the support to give others the confidence to ask for more and turn their ideas into a reality.”
WES Ambassador Jo Macsween, former CEO of MacSween Haggis, welcomed the launch of the Women’s Business Centre, commenting; “The Women’s Business Centre is a very welcome resource for women thinking about starting up a business. Now, more than ever, in the midst of so much change and uncertainty, women need to be able to access the gender specific support and advice which are so essential when you’re shaping up a business idea and getting started.
She continued; “This digital platform is a fantastic resource for women looking at starting up in business, filled with advice, support and relatable role models of other businesswomen. I am looking forward to seeing the creation of a new generation of women business owners who will be inspired and supported by the Women’s Business Centre to unlock their potential and play a vital part in reviving Scotland’s economy.”
Carolyn Currie concluded; “With Scotland facing an uphill struggle towards economic recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic, there has never been a greater need to provide expert, needs-based business support for women. Now is the time to make the most of digital technologies to help more women unlock their creativity, get off to the best start with their business and boost the Scottish economy. By creating a more diverse, gender balanced business landscape, we will be able to take Scotland into a new era of business growth.”