Rural start-up pilot success

Our Business Creation Project designed to develop enterprise skills and encourage business start-up ideas amongst women based in rural areas of Scotland has just finished its first pilot in three target areas.


The project, which was delivered by Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) and Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS), ran in the Small Isles, New Cumnock in East Ayrshire and Liddesdale in the Scottish Borders. It took place over a 10- week period, with weekly sessions held by zoom for 1.5 hours each week, working with a combined cohort of around 30 women.

Caroline Blackie Photography, Emma McLellan


Langholm-based Emma McLellan, founder of CraneWife Textiles, was one of the participants who completed the course. She commented;

“In my previous career, I was a clinical psychologist in the NHS but one of my passions is textiles. I am now half way through an Honours degree with Heriot Watt University at their Scottish Borders campus in Galashiels, studying Design for Textiles. My specialist area is knitwear and this business creation course has been invaluable in giving me the skills and confidence to build a sustainable business when I graduate. I have built new networks and been able to gain important skills in a gender specific environment which will allow me to now go on and develop my passion into a meaningful, authentic business.”

The programme, which was oversubscribed due to demand, was designed to provide women with the confidence and information they need at the very beginning of their business start-up journey. Topics covered on the course included business planning, attracting customers, pricing and managing finances. Participants got the opportunity to meet other local women interested in starting up a business, as well as networking with women from areas across Scotland during the zoom sessions.


Louisa Macdonell, Chief Executive of Development Trusts Association Scotland said;

“We are delighted to have delivered this much-needed, gender specific business start-up training in three rural areas as part of an initial pilot. The priority has been to reach and unlock the economic potential of the rural and agricultural economy by giving women, a third of whom are women in agriculture, the skills they need in entrepreneurship to build sustainable businesses."

She continued;

“By bringing together the Development Trusts' invaluable local input with the gendered business knowledge of Women’s Enterprise Scotland, the end result was an informed, inspiring course for all involved. This new way of delivering training using the community expertise of the Development Trusts is a brilliant innovation and the success of the participants’ businesses going forward will play a crucial role in empowering the areas in which they are based.”

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