Jackie Waring: Investing in female entrepreneurs

The success of female entrepreneurs is vital, Jackie Waring argues, not only in terms of promoting gender equality but also to benefit the wider economy.

The chief executive of Investing Women, Scotland’s only all-female angel investing group, says progress is being made when it comes to bolstering the number of female business leaders, but there is still much work to be done.“Women’s Enterprise Scotland research shows that if we could increase the number of female-led businesses to the same level of those run by men we’d see a five per cent boost to our economy, equivalent to a rise of £7.6 billion,” points out Waring, who set up her own company in 2003 and went on to become the UK’s first advisory board member to the Global Banking Alliance for Women, based in Washington DC.

Finalists at last year's AccelerateHer awards

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She is now preparing for the second instalment of the AccelerateHer awards, launched last year to celebrate the most promising women-led businesses in Scotland. Leah Hutcheon, chief executive of online booking specialist Appointedd, picked up the top prize at last year’s event, winning a £5,000 cash prize along with a £13,000 package of mentoring, legal and accountancy support from sponsor Chiene + Tait.

Leah Hutcheon of Appointedd won the top prize at last year's event

The latest awards come as research from Royal Bank of Scotland show that the country’s women-led businesses contributed £268 million to the UK’s economy in 2015, with Glasgow generating £67m alone and Edinburgh £52m.

The research, carried out in partnership with Development Economics, revealed that female entrepreneurs set up 1,900 firms in Glasgow during the year, with a further 1,400 launched in Edinburgh.But it also showed that, while the proportion of the UK’s female working population starting a business nearly doubled to 7.1 per cent between 2009 and 2012, this growth has since tailed off and stood at less than 5 per cent in 2015.However, Waring believes there are still grounds for optimism in the field of female entrepreneurialism, pointing to “significant growth” in the number of recent start-ups.“In the past year alone our all-female angel investment group, Investing Women, has seen a significant rise in women-led businesses seeking and securing investment; and that’s also been greatly boosted by our colleagues in other Scottish angel groups.“But more needs to be done to encourage those with the ideas and ability to succeed in business. As well as helping create more female-led start-up companies in Scotland, we must also help those businesses achieve their true growth potential.”

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