Making the grade: Young Enterprise Scotland's #FemaleBoss initiative heading to schools

An initiative from Young Enterprise (YE) Scotland helping young women to become their own boss is set to expand into schools – with the organisation stating that the untapped potential of female entrepreneurship is increasingly important to Scotland’s economic success.

#FemaleBoss was launched in 2021 by YE Scotland in partnership with Royal Bank of Scotland, and says it has already worked with more than 130 students from 11 colleges across Scotland, supporting them in thinking about running their own companies, with its blend of online workshops, mentoring, and grant funding to build both practical skills and confidence.

This year’s programme also has the backing of Scottish Enterprise, which is contributing up to £15,000 through its “Start her up” and “Move her up” grant schemes.

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Now, ahead of International Women’s Day this Tuesday, YE Scotland has announced its ambition to grow the programme through schools, targeting young women in S3/4 and ahead of their course choices in S5.

'Our aim is to inspire, empower and support young women from a younger age to develop themselves through enterprise,' says Lisa Wardlaw of YE Scotland. Picture: contributed.

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YE Scotland added that it is already creating a pipeline of young entrepreneurs through its Company Programme for those aged 16 to 18, and for the first time, this academic year has seen more young women taking part (57 per cent) than young men.

"By bringing the #Femaleboss programme to the younger pupils, YE Scotland aims to help create the environment in which choosing to start up or run a business becomes an informed and exciting choice for more young women,” the organisation said.

It also noted that women-owned businesses in Scotland already add £8.8 billion to the economy each year, with The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship estimating that supporting and developing such firms could create more than a million small and medium-sized enterprises, and £250bn of additional value across the UK.

Lisa Wardlaw, college delivery manager for YE Scotland, said: “Our aim is to inspire, empower and support young women from a younger age to develop themselves through enterprise. This will include supporting them in developing their leadership skills, their entrepreneurial spirit and focus on developing confidence from within, touching on self-esteem and resilience building.

“By targeting S3/4, this would hit more pupils and also help them in the course choices for S5. It also creates a structured ladder of enterprise into our Young Enterprise Scotland Company Programme, an accredited qualification recognised by UCAS, which they can participate in, in S5/6. Ultimately, it will give more young women the opportunity to develop themselves through enterprise – and potentially become successful business women and leaders.”

Progress

YE Scotland says it is the principal provider of enterprise and financial education in Scottish schools and colleges. Having started out in 1992, it now each year supports around 16,000 young people, from all backgrounds, to develop their business knowledge, entrepreneurial skills, and become more employable.

It was recently revealed that a record number of new businesses were started by women in Scotland last year, with the 5,951 total more than double the figure recorded in 2018, but there were also concerns that the impact of the pandemic threatened to hold back further progress.

Separately, Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES), which works to close the gender gap in enterprise, has just marked its tenth anniversary with calls for action over the establishment of a National Women’s Business Centre model.

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