Scottish Framework and Action Plan for Women's Enterprise

The Scottish Framework and Action Plan for Women in Enterprise, the first of its kind in Europe, was originally launched on 04 March 2014 .   The document has been refreshed to reflect the emerging post Enterprise and Skills Review support landscape.  Download your copy here


Co-founded by WES and the Scottish Government to increase the contribution of women’s enterprise to the Scottish economy, the framework document lays the foundation for action through the primary stakeholders in the enterprise eco-system.

The actions contained in the Framework include a focus on:

“Demonstrating equality shouldn’t be something that gets in the way of doing business. It should simply be a natural state of affairs.

The actions of this framework have been designed to fundamentally shift business culture. They contain simple but effective steps that, as adopted, will make a real difference. By implementing them, we can encourage new generations of business women in Scotland. And we can make significant progress towards achieving gender equality through social, political and economic change.”

Excerpt from Foreword by Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland  to Framework for Women’s Enterprise

"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."

Excerpt from Foreword by Jackie Brierton MBE, Vice Chair & Founder of Women's Enterprise Scotland

Framework & Action Plan For Women's Enterprise
Mentoring & Networking

In research undertaken by Women’s Enterprise  Scotland during 2017, mentoring was highly valued by 84% of women-led businesses who had accessed mentoring.  In addition, 43% cited mentoring as the main support they needed to grow their business in the next three years. Mentoring was identified by business support staff too, as an important service often requested by female 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.


Partners in the Framework are committed to -

  • Promoting emerging best practice and research on gender support from Scotland’s ‘mentoring framework’.

  • Piloting and measuring the impact of mentoring specifically aimed at women-led businesses 

  • Supporting the delivery of more networking opportunities for women across Scotland

  • Extending the provision of networks for women to assist with building contacts as well as combatting isolation.

All WES role model Ambassadors are trained in mentoring provision and we encourage per to peer mentoring and support through our leadership programmes and networks. Sign up to our newsletter to stay informed of our activities.

Role Modelling

Role models are a valuable resource in supporting women led businesses to overcome challenges. Everyday 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. Evidence suggests role models are vital for the development and aspirations of women-owned businesses - this includes direct evidence from women-owned businesses themselves.

"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

Partners in the Framework are committed to -

  • Actively supporting Women’s Enterprise Scotland in the development and promotion of the Scotland CAN DO Women’s Ambassadors programme.

  • Identifying, supporting and promoting more ‘womenablers’ and encouraging more women into leadership roles. 


The Women's Enteprise Scotland CAN DO Ambassador programme features the inspirational stories of women owned businesses across Scotland. It is a highly prestigious programme connecting up existing business owners with women considering business as a career option, side hustling, starting up or growing their business. Together we tackle stereotypes, build networks, speak in the media and in parliament and help motivate, engage and inspire other women-owned businesses. Sign up to our newsletter and follow us on social media to keep up to date with our Ambassador programme activities and opportunities.


We also inspire and support more women to start up and grow a business through our Gallery of Women-Owned Businesses. Featuring the fabulous women running their own businesses in Scotland, our Gallery showcases the huge variety of business offering innovative products and services and establishing a vibrant business ecosystem. To read more and find out how to get involved, click the links below.

Growth & 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 at an early stage of the business and providing security over the family home. Along with our partners, we are working to identify innovative solutions to improving access to finance for women, including unsecured lending.

Partners in the Framework are committed to –

  • Working with financial institutions and initiatives, to explore the provision of microcredit for women at early stage business creation.

  • Supporting Investing Women’s workshops and events and promoting the stories of success.

  • Ensuring that the Scotland CAN DO approach investigates all opportunities to support growth initiatives for women led businesses.

  • Seeking to ensure greater participation of women’s businesses in the innovation process, including access to innovation support, and support with exporting and internationalisation.


Read more about Growth & Finance by clicking the button below:

Gender Aware Support and Best Practice

In studies 46% percent of women-owned businesses taking part said that they had experienced discrimination as a woman business owner. To deal with this challenge, initiatives valued by women-owned businesses included gender-aware training programmes and gender-aware business support services.

Business account managers taking part in this study also identified that a gender-aware support toolkit would be of benefit to practice. In the survey of business support staff undertaken as part of the research , 87% said business support staff should be more aware of the differences between men and women in business and 75% of respondents said training on the provision of gender-aware support would help.

As a key part of supporting women in enterprise, partners in the Framework are committed to –

  • Working with business support organisations to raise awareness of the needs of women led businesses and activities which encourage more women to access business support provision.

  • Sharing best practice and solutions that improve staff awareness of gender aware business support considerations.

  • Initiating a collaborative learning programme to develop an understanding of gender proofed best practice within the context of the Scottish ecosystem.

  • Ensuring a more cohesive signposting of the support available to women, including the development of a digital road map.


Women’s Enterprise Scotland works with many organisations to assist in the delivery of accessible and appropriate business support for women.  Click on the button below to find out more about Gender Aware Support.


The Framework will be governed by an implementation group comprising of key stakeholders for women’s enterprise in Scotland.  The group is chaired by a Scottish Government minister. The group will monitor and question progress, producing a report each year.

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