Media release: Women’s centenary vote marked with call for national women’s business centre


WOMEN’S Enterprise Scotland (WES), the community interest company which focuses on the contribution women’s enterprise makes to the Scottish economy, is today (14 December 2018) marking the centenary of UK women first voting in a General Election by calling for concerted action to establish a National Women’s Business Centre.

Carolyn Currie, chief executive of Women’s Enterprise Scotland, said: “Women first being able to vote on 14 December 1918 marked a huge milestone in the struggle for equal representation.

“Much has been achieved since then but there is still so much more to do. Whilst we still have a gender pay gap, maternity discrimination, male-dominated company boards and just 21 per cent of Scottish SMEs being majority-owned by women, we are consigning a wealth of talent and opportunity to waste. Enough is enough, the time for concerted, meaningful action is now.”

She continued: “The economic case for an innovative, progressive and inclusive business ecosystem is clear. Recent research from the FSB, supported by WES, reveals that the contribution women-owned businesses make to the Scottish economy has increased by a staggering 76 per cent, from £5bn GVA in 2012 to £8.8bn.

“The moral and economic case for driving gender balance in enterprise is obvious. What we need now is a dedicated National Women’s Business Centre to deliver the specific support women need to start and grow their own businesses.”

Women’s Enterprise Scotland marked their call for action by joining forces with female entrepreneurs at Royal Bank of Scotland’s new Accelerator Hub in Glasgow, which will help up to 70 businesses at a time, through a comprehensive programme of free mentoring, insight and bespoke coaching for entrepreneurs.

Scotland’s women-owned businesses are now responsible for creating 231k Scottish jobs, up from 153k in 2012. Across the UK, up to a quarter of private sector employment (23.85 per cent) is now calculated to be generated by women-owned and women-led businesses.

From a sector perspective, Scottish women-owned businesses contribute more GVA than Food and Drink and Life Sciences combined (£7.26bn) and more than Creative Industries and Sustainable Tourism combined (£8.3bn).

Janice Cunningham, Royal Bank of Scotland entrepreneurial development manager, said: “We support entrepreneurs at all stages to start, scale and succeed through our Royal Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator proposition.

“We are attracting many female founders with an impressive variety of businesses across all sectors with real scope for growth, which is very encouraging. These inspiring women are great role models and ambassadors who will support us in attracting more women onto our Accelerator. Our comprehensive programme of coaching, mentoring and access to our networks is provided fully funded by the bank and is designed to help these businesses create jobs, generate profits and achieve sustainable growth.”


Notes to editors:

Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) works to create an entrepreneurial environment where women-led businesses can flourish and grow. WES works with research-led insights and collaborates with other business support organisations to help close the gender gap in enterprise.

Working with the Scottish Government and partners from the public, private and third sectors throughout Scotland, the ‘Women in Enterprise’ Framework and Action Plan was launched in 2014 and refreshed in 2017. It is the only Framework of its kind in Europe.

Majority women-owned businesses are c21 per cent of the business base in Scotland and contribute £5bn GVA into the economy. If women started up in business at the same rate as men, it is estimated that Scotland’s economy would be boosted by an additional £7.6bn.

Royal Bank of Scotland Entrepreneur Accelerator is recognised as the UK’s largest free business accelerator network and is capable of supporting 1,000 entrepreneurs simultaneously in its 12 hubs based throughout the country.

[1] Supporting Women’s Enterprise in the UK: The Economic Case (2018)
[2] The Growth Sectors of the Scottish Economy
[3] Professor Sara Carter, Strategic Framework on Women’s Enterprise (2014)

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