National Women's Business Centre
Around 1 in every 5 businesses in Scotland is majority owned by women. To help build momentum toward achieving parity and greater economic output, WES has a bold and ambitious vision, to establish a national Women's Business Centre with regional hubs across the country. It will be a place dedicated to the delivery of expert, needs-based support for women creating and growing their own businesses.
Establishing a national Women’s Business Centre in Scotland will provide the expertise to unlock the economic opportunity represented by women-led businesses and aid the creation of a gender-balanced business ecosystem, further boosting innovation and productivity.
WES has already rolled out the first stage of delivering this vision, with the launch in 2020 of the digital Women's Business Centre. Designed to support women from the pre start-up and start up stage of their business journey, through to growth, this new platform is free to access and offers dedicated, needs-based content for women setting up their own enterprise. Supported by Royal Bank of Scotland and Crowdfunder UK, and informed by years of research, the new Women's Business Centre 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.
The Women's Business Centre reflects the fact that whilst there has been progress in policy terms, in practice Scotland and the UK still lag behind other nations in terms of business creation. The proportional population percentage of new female entrepreneurs and women setting up a new business is 13.5% in Canada and 9.2% in the US, but notably lower at 4.7% in the UK. Scotland is not realising the £8.8bn economic opportunity represented by women-owned businesses and the status quo is effectively acting as a drag on economic output and productivity. With women-owned employer businesses less than 16% of the business base, the country has a significant enterprise gender gap which needs closing.
With research from Scotland, the UK and globally all pointing to women being the significantly disadvantaged in the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 pandemic, WES anticipates that the digital Women's Business Centre will be a key component in addressing and supporting women’s contribution to rebuilding the economy. And first step in unlocking the investment and collaboration required to realise the broader vision of a National Women's Business Centre, which would be a vital component in –
Helping women across Scotland to unlock their full business capability, access innovative technologies and build the businesses of the future.
Bridging the gaps in mainstream gender specific business support provision .
Facilitating the 'Can Do' strategy of sustainable economic growth with opportunities for everyone.
The National Women’s Business Centre would provide a flagship of expertise from which to co-ordinate research, identify best practice, deliver business support, analyse data and build relationships across the business ecosystem at home and internationally.