Group gives backing to women’s enterprise minister

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A BUSINESS group will this week endorse calls for the Scottish Government to bring in a women’s enterprise minister in an effort to boost the flagging economy.

Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES), which is holding its inaugural Women’s Business and Enterprise Conference in Glasgow this week, has estimated that if the number of female-owned businesses were equivalent to those owned by men, the Scottish economy would grow by £7 billion or 5 per cent, compared to 0.3 per cent in 2012.

Jackie Brierton, a founding director of WES, said the idea for establishment of a minister specifically focusing on women in business emerged from a series of events and debates in parliament held as a result of the women’s employment summit last year.

She said: “We looked at key things like role models, the role of procurement, access to finance and gender-focused business support. Out of one of the workshops a call for a minister for women’s enterprise came up. Having a minister who has that focus – like Angela Constance, who is minister for youth employment – would be really useful.

The event will feature debate from Julie Weeks, the chief executive of US-based research group Womenable, who will argue how legislation supporting women-owned businesses in the US has seen their proportion increase to 30 per cent. Constance will appear at the event to launch a consultative draft Scottish Framework for Women’s Enterprise.

She said: “Encouraging more women to start and grow businesses in Scotland is essential for our economy.”

According to a recent UK small business survey, 21 per cent of business in Scotland are female led while 53 per cent are led by men, said Brierton.

She added: “If we had the same number of female-owned businesses as male in Scotland, it would provide us with 5 per cent growth in the Scottish economy. Even by encouraging more women who already run businesses to grow, you could have a fairly major impact.”