Media release: Women Enterprise Scotland launches ‘manifesto for change’


WOMEN’S Enterprise Scotland is today (1 March) launching its 2021 Manifesto for Change, focusing on the critical importance of developing and supporting women’s enterprise as part of Scotland’s future economic prosperity.

The launch of the manifesto, which focuses on five priority areas for positive change, comes in the run-up to International Women’s Day on 8th March.

It calls on the next Scottish Government to make key commitments in supporting women’s, including enabling greater access to finance and ensuring business support services are more aware of women’s needs.

Carolyn Currie, pictured, CEO of Women’s Enterprise Scotland, said: “We are calling on all parties and candidates for the 2021 elections to the Scottish Parliament to prioritise women’s enterprise in the next parliamentary session.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed significant vulnerabilities in our economic and social systems and highlighted what were already existing inequalities in our society.

“Pre-existing barriers for women in business have been exacerbated and recovery planning absolutely must include policies which address the very specific needs of women in business.”

Businesses which are majority-owned by women currently contribute an estimated £8.8bn to the Scottish economy every year and account for over 231,000 jobs, which is 13 per cent of the private sector total in Scotland (1).

Years of progress have now stalled, with the number of women-led businesses in Scotland declining over two consecutive years, from 20.6 per cent in 2017 to 14 per cent in 2019 (2).

Currie concluded: “Studies continue to highlight challenges faced by women in business and there is a broad evidence base which can inform policy development.

“If we are to emerge from the pandemic stronger and smarter – if we are going to ‘build back better’ – then the time for talking is over. We simply must prioritise the key actions which will close the quite frankly shameful and accelerating gender gap in enterprise participation and allow women to fulfil their economic potential.”

The five priorities for change in the Women’s Enterprise manifesto for change are:

  • Enable greater access to finance (women are estimated to start their businesses with 53 per cent less capital than men);
  • Enable a more gender aware business support structure across Scotland (71 per cent of women’s businesses in a Scottish survey agreed or strongly agreed that business support services need to be more aware of women’s needs);
  • Champion digital inclusion (only 16 per cent of girls are said to be studying Computing Science at Higher level);
  • Deliver improved data collection (the gathering, analysis and publication of gender-disaggregated data is fundamental to closing the persistent gender gap in enterprise participation); and
  • Advocate for a more gender equal economy (investing in care would create 2.7 times as many jobs as the same investment in construction).

Full details of the Women’s Enterprise Scotland Manifesto for Change are available here.


For further information about Women’s Enterprise Scotland, please contact Gaynor Simpson on 07790 104073 or email

Notes for editors:

  • Women’s Enterprise Scotland was established in 2011 as a research-led, not-for-profit Community Interest Company which champions women-led and women-owned businesses.
  • WES advocates the need for gender-specific support in enterprise as the way to unlock women’s economic potential, enabling innovation and productivity to thrive.
  • In 2020, WES launched the Women’s Business Centre, the first freely accessible digital platform of its kind which supports women as they start and grow their own businesses.

(1) Women in Enterprise: the Economic Case (Federation of Small Businesses) 2018

(2) Small Business Survey Scotland (2019)

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Contact: Gaynor Simpson
Phone: 07790104073