Media release: Enterprising rural women celebrate success of business creation course

Emma McLellan, CraneWife Textiles

A 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 ten- week period, with weekly sessions held by zoom for 1.5 hours each week, working with a combined cohort of around 30 women.

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 over-subscribed 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.”

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

For further information about DTA Scotland, please see / @DTAScot

Image shows: Emma McLellan, CraneWife Textiles Credit: Caroline Blackie Photography


Notes for editors:

  • Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) was established in 2011 as a not-for-profit Community Interest Company (CIC) and focuses on the contribution women’s enterprise makes to the Scottish economy.
  • Less than 16 per cent of SMEs in Scotland are women-owned employer businesses.
  • Women owned businesses now contribute £8.8bn GVA into the Scottish economy, an increase of 76 per cent from £5bn GVA in 2012. As a sector, women-owned businesses contribute more GVA than Sustainable Tourism (£4.1bn), Food & Drink (£5.5bn) and Creative Industries (£4.9bn)​. Growth Sector Statistics, Scottish Government, Feb 2020.
  • Rural enterprise contributes more than an estimated £36 billion to the Scottish economy each year, nearly 25 per cent of Scotland’s overall economy. This does not include the huge and largely unquantified contribution of small and micro rural enterprises below the VAT threshold.
  • Nearly 25 per cent of adults in rural Scotland are self-employed (more than twice the rate of urban areas).
  • Rural communities and businesses face a range of challenges, including inconsistent broadband coverage, poor transport links and greater distances to food supplies and health services.
  • Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTA Scotland) is a member-led, national organisation for Development Trusts across city, town, rural and islands communities throughout Scotland. With over 300 members, DTA Scotland exists to support and strengthen and promote the work of development trusts and similar community organisations in Scotland.
  • Initial post-course research shows that by the end of the ten-week project, almost 90 per cent of participants had formed a business idea, 38 per cent had successfully started their own business, and 35 per cent had started making sales and taking orders. 95 per cent reported that local delivery was an important factor in their decision to take part and 91 per cent of participants reported improved confidence as a result of the programme.

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