Research & Policy

To help realise our ambition for women-owned businesses in Scotland and beyond, Women’s Enterprise Scotland has a strong, on-going focus on policy development.

In 2014, we co-founded the Scottish Framework and Action Plan for Women’s Enterprise, the first of it's kind in Europe.  We continue to be a key advisor to the Scottish Government and the Women in Enterprise Implementation Group. In addition to providing consultancy services to the Welsh Government on the launch of their framework for Women in Enterprise in Wales in 2019. We are members of the Think 20, the "ideas bank" of the central banks and governments comprising the G20.

In Scotland, the publication of the WES Survey of Women-Owned Businesses in November 2014, enhanced the information available on the barriers to women starting and growing businesses in Scotland. In addition, the research discerned the activities and support needed to tackle those barriers and achieve business growth.  Subsequent research undertaken in 2016 and 2017 has again pointed to the ongoing barriers to women's business ownership and growth in Scotland - and the support and resources identified to address the issues and effect change.

In 2018, WES, in partnership with Portsmouth University, undertook research for the Federation of Small Businesses into the Economic Case for Women's Enterprise in the UK. While women are just 20% of the business base in Scotland, the research found that these businesses contribute £8.8bn Gross Value Add (GVA) into the Scottish economy each year. 

In context, that significant level of economic contribution exceeds the GVA from many of the "Growth" sectors including Food & Drink (£5.3bn); Creative Industries (£4.4bn); Sustainable Tourism (£3.9bn) and Life Sciences (£1.5bn).


From the research delivered by WES and other organisations over the years,  we believe that gender-specific needs based support, designed by women-owned businesses for women-owned businesses, can begin to close the current gender gap in enterprise participation and ownership. Significantly boosting the existing economic contribution and creating an environment where more women and girls can start up in business and thrive.


That is our mission. 


Cross Party Group on Women in Enterprise


The Cross Party Group (CPG) on Women in Enterprise was established in September 2016.


The operation of CPGs is regulated by Section 6 (Volume 2) of the Code of Conduct for MSPs which outlines the procedures for establishing a CPG and sets out the framework for their operation.

Cross-Party Groups (CPGs) provide an opportunity for Members of all parties, outside organisations and members of the public to meet and discuss a shared interest in a particular cause or subject.

CPGs can have both MSP and non-MSP members. However, the membership or involvement of non-MSPs is a matter for the MSP members of each CPG to determine. Rules require that the overall membership profile of the CPG must remain clearly Parliamentary in character.


The Cross Party Group aims to –

  • Establish a forum for the sharing of experiences and information on the position of women in enterprise in Scotland;

  • Enable discussion and debate on the gender gap in enterprise, and seek solutions on how this might be tackled;

  • Bring partners together with an interest in women and enterprise to develop a collaborative approach towards working together.


Convenor: Gillian Martin MSP

Vice Convenor: Jackie Baillie MSP

Secretary: Anne Meikle, Policy Manager, Women’s Enterprise Scotland

Other MSP membership: Clare Haughey MSP; Daniel Johnson MSP; Andy Wightman MSP; Alison Harris MSP; Christine Grahame MSP.

Other organisational members: Fraser of Allander Institute; Federation of Small Businesses; Highlands and Islands Enterprise; Business Gateway; Royal Bank of Scotland; Scottish Enterprise; Edinburgh Business School @ Heriot Watt University; Edinburgh Napier University, Young Enterprise Scotland, WES Ambassadors.


Attendance at meetings is by invite only. This is to ensure that the discussion remains strategic and focussed on the aims of the CPG and its themes. 

Each meeting has a particular theme relating to issues of women in enterprise and attendees and speakers are invited according to their areas of expertise and / or interest in each theme.


Annual Report 2016-2017

Annual Report 2017-2018

Annual Report 2018-2019

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