Enterprising Military Wives on Course for Success with Business Creation Project

Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work yesterday visited the second successful Business Creation Project in Scotland for Armed Forces’ spouses and partners, at Glencorse Barracks in Penicuik.

Melissa MacMillan - Pigeon Creek; Liz Dadd - Little Red Hen Crafts; Provost of Midlothian, Adam Montgomery; Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work; Kathleen Cargill - HR Consultant; Lynne Cadenhead, Chair at WES

On Thursday 30 November, accompanied by the Provost of Midlothian, Adam Montgomery, and OC (Officer Commanding) Lorne Campbell, the Cabinet Secretary met some of the 10 women who are taking part in the free, 12-week course. Designed by Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) to gain insight and confidence on how to start up and run a small business, the course encourages attendees to capitalise on existing skills, identify business ideas and work with those ideas to create and build a new business.

Run for the first time in 2016, the course was so successful that WES applied for a further round of funding from the Armed Forces Covenant to repeat the programme with a new cohort in 2017, as well as offering extended support to the 2016 attendees. The project was awarded almost £20,000 from the Armed Forces Covenant and is being delivered by WES, supported by The Royal Bank of Scotland, Business Gateway, AWS (Army Welfare Service), AFF (Army Families Federation) and HIVE (the information network for all members of the Service community).

WES developed the Business Creation Course after recognising that traditional employment can be hard to sustain for the wives and partners of servicemen and women. Whilst many may consider starting their own businesses, this is often ruled out as a career option due to a lack of insight into and awareness of what is involved with the business start up process.

Women’s Enterprise Scotland Training & Communications Manager Jennifer Lindsay-Finan commented; “Last year’s course was so well received that we were delighted to receive further funding to reach more women within the military community. Armed Forces’ wives and partners have a huge amount to offer as a pool of talent for economic growth and to date, this pool has been untapped. These are people, who typically have a wealth of talents, including resilience, flexibility and resourcefulness. Many do not pursue traditional employment opportunities due to the demands of a military focused lifestyle, yet their resilience and capacity to adapt can make them ideal entrepreneurs and innovators. Scotland needs to encourage more women into the enterprise sector.”

Economy and Veterans Minister Keith Brown MSP said:

"I am delighted to have the opportunity to visit and see first-hand the business creation course for military wives for the second year.”

“Military spouses give this nation so much and now it is our turn to give back. We all have a part to play in breaking down barriers and giving every person, regardless of gender or complicated family circumstances, the opportunity to fully utilise their potential and talents to play their part in our economy and wider society.”

“WES, a key partner in this government’s work to tackle the gender gap in enterprise, are helping the country to recognise and support our military families - and not just through words, but through meaningful actions."

Course participant Kathleen Cargill said; “As a Human Resource professional who has taken time out from my career to have a family, attending the WES Business Creation Course has been exactly what I needed. It has brought me together with like-minded women in similar situations to my own and given me the motivation, inspiration and support to identify how I can utilise my skills by starting my own business. I am delighted to have had this opportunity to join the Course and hopefully it’ll allow me the flexibility to return to employment and be my own boss.”

Liz Dadd, founder of Little Red Hen Crafts, attended the course in 2016 and commented; “I found the WES Business Creation project invaluable in terms of giving me the confidence to take my business idea forward and turn it into a reality. What I can see now that I’m 12 months further down the line is that there is a clear need for ongoing support to help the businesses go from start up to the next stage, helping them get firmly established.”

Read more about the course here.

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