Top Scots businesswoman chosen to lead review of female entrepreneurship

Entrepreneur and investor Ana Stewart has been officially named the chair of Scotland’s Women in Enterprise Review – an initiative she says offers a “clear opportunity” to implement measures to help women reach their business goals.

Also known as the Stewart Review, the study was recently commissioned by the Scottish Government, and will focus on areas including education, access to finance and funding, plus advice, support, and mentoring for women in business in Scotland.

Ms Stewart said: "We have set out to examine current conditions, and to then make recommendations on any perceived gender gap in business ownership and opportunity in Scotland.

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“The report will recommend short, medium, and longer-term interventions aimed at helping to address any barriers facing women in enterprise,” she added, also stating that the review presents a “clear opportunity to subsequently put in place systems and networks that give women the support they need” to fully bring to life their business targets.

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The businesswoman is currently a partner with St-Andrews-based investment firm Eos Advisory, a non-executive director with the Scottish Football Association, and also sits on the board of online pet wellness start-up Bella & Duke and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland.

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Regarding the review, Ms Stewart explained that she is prioritising the delivery of “robust and resilient” data sets, with a view to benchmarking and measuring progress over the coming years.

She added: “Utilising resilient and relevant data to inform the review and act as the template for the measurement beyond is going to be key. As they say, what gets measured gets done.”

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'The report will recommend short, medium, and longer-term interventions aimed at helping to address any barriers facing women in enterprise,' says Ana Stewart. Picture: contributed.

Ms Stewart previously founded and floated IT specialist i-design Group, which was subsequently acquired by US-based ATM group Cardtronics Inc in 2013.

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The Women in Enterprise Review is set to close its discovery phase this month, with full findings and recommendations expected by the end of September.

Judy Wagner of executive search specialist FWB, Jackie Waring of AccelerateHER, and Gemma Hamilton of Business Growth Fund have joined the review team to help with specific workstreams – and Ms Stewart praised the level of support, feedback, and intelligence received from across the Scottish business scene so far.

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The Scottish Government has committed funding of £50 million over the course of the next parliament to support women in enterprise.

Addressing

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Finance and Economic Secretary Kate Forbes recently said: “It is clear that, collectively, we must do more to address the gender gap in business participation in Scotland. I have commissioned experienced entrepreneur and investor Ana Stewart to lead a short-term review of how best to target that support and help more women realise their business ambitions.”

The Review comes after the UK Treasury commissioned Alison Rose – now NatWest chief executive – to lead an independent review of female entrepreneurship. The resulting document, first published in 2019, highlighted how if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men, up to £250 billion of new value could be added to the UK economy.

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The Rose Review Progress Report 2022 was revealed in February of this year, with Ms Rose saying: “We have seen real progress since 2019… But women still don’t receive all the support they need and the pandemic risks holding back progress, so we must go further to achieve the goals of the Rose Review.”

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