Business-creation programme aimed at women in rural Scotland launches

A business-creation project designed to develop enterprise skills and encourage business start-up ideas amongst women in rural areas of Scotland launches today.

Louisa Macdonell, head of Development Trusts Association Scotland, points out that business creation leads to job creation. Photograph: Hannah Houston Photography.

The oversubscribed project, which is being delivered by Women’s Enterprise Scotland and Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS), will initially run in three target areas – the Small Isles, New Cumnock in East Ayrshire, and Liddesdale in the Scottish Borders.

It will take place over ten weeks with weekly 90-minute sessions held on Zoom, working with a cohort of around 30 women.

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The programme aims to provide women with the confidence and information they need at the very beginning of their business start-up journey. Topics will include business planning, attracting customers, pricing and managing finances. Participants will get the opportunity to meet other local women interested in starting up a business, as well as networking with others across Scotland during the online sessions.

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Louisa Macdonell, chief executive of DTAS, said: “Covid-19 has placed the role of Scotland’s development trusts truly centre stage... we are delighted to be bringing this crucial business start-up training to an initial group of three rural areas.

“Business creation leads to job creation. With fewer than 16 per cent of [small and medium-sized enterprises] in Scotland currently being women-owned employer businesses, it is vital that we inspire, motivate and inform women in rural communities on what is involved in starting and running a business, thereby unlocking their untapped economic potential.”

Women-owned businesses now contribute £8.8 billion to the Scottish economy, up from £5bn in 2012.

Claire Musson, learning and enterprise manager at Newcastleton and District Community Trust in Liddesdale, said the programme will give women the confidence and information they need as they set off on their business start-up journey. “It is the perfect combination of national training backed by local knowledge and support and we are looking forward to seeing the benefits being realised with new business and new jobs created in the local area.”

Wendy Pring, a trustee at New Cumnock Development Trust said: “We know there is currently a real lack of any business-creation programme in the area with a gender-appropriate approach and research shows that whilst many women may consider starting their own businesses, this is often ruled out as a career option due to a lack of insight into and awareness of what is involved.”

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