Female entrepreneurs put their best foot forward

Women's Employment Minister Annabelle Ewing MSP.
Women's Employment Minister Annabelle Ewing MSP.
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Women’s Employment Minister Annabelle Ewing has met with two Scottish business owners charged with championing entrepreneurship among young women.

Podiatrist Dr Bharti Rajput and Shelagh Swanson, owner/artist in Residence of Oil and Glass Studio and Director of Pentland Fine Art Dealers and Gallery in Aberdeen, are among 15 women who have been chosen as Women’s Enterprise Scotland Ambassadors.

On Wednesday Ms Ewing visited Dr Rajput at her clinic in Dundee while on Tuesday she visited Oil and Glass on Tuesday. She said:

“I was very keen to visit Bharti and Shelagh at work, meet their staff and clients and see how they started, built and continue to grow their businesses. As Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) Ambassadors, both Bharti and Shelagh have shared their experiences with other businesswomen at various stages of their careers and helped spread the message about the support that is out there whether you are trying to get a company up and running or are looking to expand.

“In Bharti’s case, she has looked to other countries and the technology being used in her profession. Incorporating ideas from this has meant that she can offer customers bespoke support products in a fraction of the time. In her line of work, that isn’t just good business sense, but can actually reduce the amount of pain her clients may be suffering in a much shorter time frame and start repairing any damage straight away.

“Shelagh’s work is sought after through private and corporate sponsors and I think it is so admirable how she has used her profile as a platform to show the economic potential of creative and artistic enterprises.

“Female self-employment has gone up more than 25 per cent in the last five years, compared to fewer than eight per cent for men. Last year women led businesses contributed around £5 billion to the economy. If we had as many female-run businesses as male we could expect that figure to grow to £7.6 billion.

“Much of the work we have to do in encouraging more women to start their own companies is to ensure they properly recognise the value of their talents and skills and just how sought after they are. That is why the breadth of specialisms of the WES Ambassador’s is so important and that we continue to look at the support and advice available to budding entrepreneurs.”

Dr Bharti Rajput is the founder of Sole, Body, Soul podiatry and wellness clinic who has worked for the NHS and in private practice, including the London Foot Hospital and Dundee Football Club. She is also a sought after speaker at conferences and workshops. She said:

Shelagh Swanson is a painter and glassmaker, graduate of Gray’s School of Art and specialises in fused glass. She has taught internationally and has work in public and private collections around the world. Ms Swanson said:

“The Creative Industries are often undervalued in terms of their contribution to society, both economically and socially; unfortunately often it is the practitioners themselves, and in particular female artists and craftspeople who are guilty of not valuing their own work and so often lack the confidence to promote themselves effectively.

“My career is proof that given the right support, for example through organisations such as Women’s Enterprise Scotland and Elevator UK, this confidence can be found. I am delighted that, through my role as an Ambassador for Women’s Enterprise, I am given the opportunity to encourage women to value their skills and perhaps inspire them to take a first step into business. It was a pleasure to welcome Ms Ewing to my studio and gallery today, hopefully it provided a true insight into the reality of and challenges that face those running arts based businesses.”