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“Demonstrating equality shouldn’t be something that gets in the way of doing business. It should simply be a natural state of affairs." Nicola Sturgeon MSP,  First Minister of Scotland. 

The Scottish Framework and Action Plan for Women in Enterprise was originally launched in March 2014 and refreshed in August 2017. Download your copy here


Co-founded and authored by WES and the Scottish Government the principle of the framework document was to increase the contribution of women’s enterprise to the Scottish economy, through partnership working across the primary stakeholders in the enterprise eco-system.

The Framework themes and areas for action include a focus on:

"As global attention mobilises to address gender issues, there is a growing bank of research and best practice to inform the delivery of effective gender-focused business support. Providing a toolkit of successful initiatives and interventions for enterprise support organisations to implement across Scotland, will help to effectively tackle the gender gap in enterprise and support the growth of a sustainable and inclusive economy."

Jackie Brierton MBE, Vice Chair & Founder of Women's Enterprise Scotland



The collection, publication and use of gender disaggregated data is essential for the monitoring and evaluation of business support programmes, including grant giving. 

Mentoring and Networking

In a nationwide survey conducted by Women’s Enterprise Scotland in 2019 a majority of respondents (57%) were currently, or had in the past, used a mentor, with 82% stating that it had made a positive difference to them and their business. 


In research undertaken by Women’s Enterprise  Scotland in 2017, mentoring was identified by business support staff too, as an important service often requested by women clients. 


Studies report that women and men seek different kinds of advice, with men opting for advice on a consultancy basis while women preferred more of a mentoring and coaching service. 

Mentoring and Networking

Role Models

Role models are a valuable resource in supporting women led businesses to overcome challenges. Stereotypical images and media representations of women entrepreneurs can be damaging in many ways - creating a negative impact on women who may be considering starting their own business and also on potential funders and business collaborators. The Scottish Government supports Women's Enterprise Scotland in the development and promotion of the Scotland CAN DO Women's Ambassadors programme.  

All WES role model Ambassadors are trained in mentoring provision and we encourage peer to peer mentoring and support through our leadership programmes and networks. Sign up to  the digital Women’s Business Centre to stay informed of our activities and see more of the Ambassador Programme. 

"You cannot be what you cannot see. We need more real-life, relatable role models for existing women in business, in addition to the next generation of women and girls coming through" 

Lynn Mann, Founder, Supernature Oils

Ambassadors & Role Models

Growth and Finance

Women wishing to grow their businesses continue to point to access to finance as a critical resource for growth. The ability to access funding can vary depending on the sector of business operation and the location of the business.


Women have reported  pressure to conform to ‘traditional’ norms of ‘scaling businesses’, including taking on investment too early in their business, at an early stage of the business and providing security over the family home. Along with partners in the eco-system, we are working to identify innovative solutions to improving access to finance for women.

Growth and Finance

Gender Aware Support and Best Practice


In a survey conducted by WES in 2019 34% of women-owned businesses taking part said that they felt they had encountered discrimination as a woman business owner. To deal with this challenge, initiatives valued by women-owned businesses included training programmes to raise awareness amongst business support agencies in order to produce a more gender-aware support service. 


Business account managers taking part in a WES study in 2017 also identified that a gender-aware training programme would be of benefit to support and improve practice. In the survey of business support staff undertaken as part of the study, 75% of respondents said training on how best to provide a more gender-aware business support would be welcomed. 


Women’s Enterprise Scotland works with many organisations to assist in the delivery of accessible and appropriate business support for women. 

Gender Aware Support

The Framework is governed by the Women’s Enterprise Action Group chaired by Jamie Hepburn MSP. The group comprises of key stakeholders for women’s enterprise in Scotland. Part of the group’s remit is to  monitor and seek progress, producing a report each year. 


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