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Business role models

Published: 4 Nov 2015 11:00

Women entrepreneurs putting their best foot forward.

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:

"Sole Body Soul was established to push the boundaries of traditional foot care and provide a unique combination of treatments designed to improve the look, feel and mobility of your feet. Although the feet may not be the most glamorous parts of the body, they are vital when it comes to our overall health and well-being. If your feet hurt you simply hurt all over! It surprises me as to how few people know about what your podiatrist actually does and where to access help when they have pain in their foot.

"Most often people will reach out for yet another 'corn pad' from a chemist or supermarket without getting a proper diagnosis or keep taking pain killers without expert advice. We are the first clinic in Scotland to combine cutting edge medical foot treatments with pampering beauty treatments specifically for the feet. We hope that every client who visits us leaves with a spring in their step."

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."

Notes to editors

Women's Enterprise Scotland received £47,000 from the Scottish Government this year for the Ambassador's programme. Over three years it will identify and coach role models from a range of industries, backgrounds, age groups and ethnicities to encourage more start-ups and promote support networks.

Women's Enterprise Scotland are one of many organisations who are delivering initiatives as part of the Scotland CAN DO movement towards becoming a world-leading entrepreneurial and innovative nation.

For more information about the Women's Enterprise Scotland Ambassador programme and the support available to business women visit

More information on Scotland CAN Do can be found here.