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Covid grant funding gender gap

Women-led businesses in Scotland were just 13.3% of the total successful applications for grant funding, and the overall value of funding received by women was only 10.6% of the total funding deployed. These figures are based on analysis of data for grants from the £30 million Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund (CTHEHF) and the £120 million Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund (PERF). [1]

The funds were made available in 2020 and were designed to provide additional grant funding to SMEs which are vital to Scotland’s local or national economy but had been made vulnerable by the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to tourism, hospitality, and creative industry companies which were experiencing hardship as a result of COVID-19.

WES has partnered with leading data analysis company mnAI, which carried out a gender disaggregated analysis to reveal the glaring gender disparity in access to grant funding by Scotland’s women-led companies during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Key findings are:

  • Female led companies received 15.7% of the CTHEHF funding and for PERF, it was just 9.7%.

  • Men were more likely than women to gain funding across every industry sector, including the care sector, which is heavily dominated by women.

  • In the majority of local authority regions (17 out of 32) women-led companies received less than 10% of the total grant funding and three regions allocated no PERF grants to women-owned/led companies at all.

See more detail of the regional data here

Commenting on the data, WES CEO Carolyn Currie said,

“This data provides us with a stark insight on the grant funding received by women-led companies during the pandemic. Even when grant support is made available to businesses, structural inequalities prevail and limit women’s access to crucial funding. Urgent, targeted action is required to ensure women’s businesses in Scotland can access the financial resources they need to recover, grow and make their rightful contribution to the Scottish economy.”

Access to finance is one of five core themes in the Women in Enterprise Strategic Framework and Action Plan, co-developed by WES and the Scottish Government in 2014 and refreshed in 2017. The 2017 update highlighted the importance of measurement and gender-disaggregated data. The need for data split by gender is also one of the key priorities in our manifesto published earlier in the year.

Research in 2018 found women-owned companies contribute £8.8bn gross value add into the Scottish economy every year and have created over 230,000 jobs, equating to 13% of private sector employment in Scotland. Gender diversity powers radical, step-change innovation and Scotland needs women’s businesses to boost productivity. By providing expert business support for women business owners with the Women’s Business Centre model, training more advisers in the provision of gender-aware business support, and improving access to finance for women, we can achieve a gender equal economy.

[1] 3657 businesses across Scotland benefited from £145.3m of grants through the Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund (CTHEHF) and the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund (PERF) fund. Of the 3657 businesses, 70% were identified as Ltd companies. The mnAI platform has enabled the gender analysis of the 70% of businesses identified as Limited Companies.





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