Media release: WES welcomes £50m Women’s Business Centre election commitment

Carolyn Currie George Square

WOMEN’S Enterprise Scotland has welcomed an election commitment to invest £50m in the creation of a Women’s Business Centre.

The commitment, announced last week by Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes MSP, comes just four weeks after Women’s Enterprise Scotland launched 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 WES manifesto focuses on five priority areas for positive change, including the call for a National Women’s Business Centre in Scotland.

Carolyn Currie, CEO of Women’s Enterprise Scotland (pictured), said: “As we move towards economic recovery post-pandemic, women’s enterprise represents a huge, untapped opportunity in excess of £9bn pounds.

“Gender diversity powers radical innovation, the type which boosts our national competitiveness and productivity. We have already demonstrated how vital gender specific business support is with the digital Women’s Business Centre, which WES launched during the pandemic.

“This model of needs-based support for women starting and growing their own businesses  is vital to building back a stronger and more resilient economy in Scotland. We welcome the commitment made by the SNP to invest in this model, which we have been calling for over a considerable period of time now, and it will ensure women play a leading role in our economic recovery.”

Businesses which are majority-owned by women currently contribute £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).

WES launched its digital Women’s Business Centre on 30th June 2020 with support from Royal Bank of Scotland.

Informed by years of research, it provides support on key topics such as accessing finance, juggling work-life balance, support networks and having business start-up ideas taken seriously.

Businesses can sign up and subscribe to the site for free and gain access to special offers such as a digital mentoring pilot and a leadership programme.

Justine Mitchell, owner of Edinburgh’s luxury day spa, Chamomile Sanctuary, and a WES Ambassador, believes that the announcement of the new Women’s Business Centre is long overdue.

She said: “The advice, support and mentoring for women-led start-ups and existing businesses will be invaluable.

“Of the 600,000 people employed in the UK beauty industry, 88 per cent are women.

“Our sector delivers around £27bn annually to the UK economy and while we have enjoyed a certain level of support during the pandemic, it is disappointing that there has been a lack of empathy and understanding of how significantly the sector has been affected.

“As we progress out of lockdown, I welcome the commitment to women’s enterprise made by the Finance Secretary. I look forward to a recognition of the importance of our sector to the economy in Scotland, to continued easing of restrictions and being able to offer clients our full range of treatments.”

The five priorities for change in Women’s Enterprise Scotland’s Manifesto for Change are:

  • Enable greater access to finance (women 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 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)
  • 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, one of the first freely-accessible digital platforms 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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