Call for women's business centre

A community interest company focused on the contribution women's enterprise makes to the Scottish economy is today marking the centenary of UK women first voting in a general election by calling for 'concerted, meaningful' action to establish a national women's business centre.

Entrepreneur Annie Campbell (foreground) at RBS' Accelerator Hub with Carolyn Currie (left) and Janice Cuningham. Picture: contributed.

Women Enterprise Scotland (WES) marked the move by joining forces with female entrepreneurs at the new Accelerator Hub in Glasgow from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). The facility will help up to 70 businesses at a time through a programme of free mentoring, insight and bespoke coaching for entrepreneurs.

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WES chief executive Carolyn Currie said much has been achieved since women first being able to vote – but there is plenty more to do. “Whilst we still have a gender pay gap, maternity discrimination, male-dominated company boards and just 21 per cent of Scottish SME’s being majority-owned by women, we are consigning a wealth of talent and opportunity to waste. Enough is enough – the time for concerted, meaningful action is now.”

She also cited recent research from the Federation of Small Businesses, supported by WES, revealing that the contribution women-owned businesses make to the Scottish economy has increased by 76 per cent, from gross value added of £5 billion in 2012 to £8.8bn. “The moral and economic case for driving gender balance in enterprise is obvious,” Currie added. “What we need now is a dedicated national women’s business centre to deliver the specific support women need to start and grow their own businesses.”

Janice Cuningham, RBS entrepreneurial development manager, said: “We support entrepreneurs at all stages to start, scale and succeed through our Royal Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator proposition. We are attracting many female founders with an impressive variety of businesses across all sectors with real scope for growth, which is very encouraging. Our comprehensive programme of coaching, mentoring and access to our networks is provided fully funded by the bank and is designed to help these businesses create jobs, generate profits and achieve sustainable growth.”