Women’s entrepreneurship celebrated in Brussels visit.
The Women's Employment Minister Annabelle Ewing will host an event looking at how female entrepreneurship can boost European economies.
Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, will join Ms Ewing to lead a discussion in Brussels on how more women can be encouraged to consider leading their own businesses.
Ms Ewing will describe the Scottish approach to encouraging women's entrepreneurship and hear from representatives from European governments, business and industry support groups on how they are addressing the issue.
The Minister will be joined by Margaret Gibson, Chief Executive of Women's Enterprise Scotland, to outline how Scotland has pioneered a framework developed by representatives from the public, private and third sector to support women trying to establish their own businesses.
Ms Ewing said:
"One area where the gender gap is still most clearly defined is in business ownership. We have a really good record in women's employment and we are making strides in seeing gender balance in our boardrooms, but only around 20 per cent of SMEs in Scotland are female-led.
"Part of the issue is getting information about the financial support and advice available out to women looking to start or build their companies, so we are tackling that and developing networks to share that expertise more widely.
"Scotland CAN DO is the only strategic framework of its kind that has been developed by organisations from all sectors, with the government only having a facilitating and nurturing role. This means that it evolves in tandem with the business landscape and reflects how it adapts to changing economic circumstances. Its priorities are education – from primary right on through school, college, university and later learning – mentoring, business growth and women's entrepreneurship.
"The other key barrier is changing attitudes. That is why the work that groups like Women's Enterprise Scotland do is so important in championing business women as role models and bringing together business owners from a whole range of industries to share their experience, inspire people to follow their example and give a clear, accurate picture of how to plan for future growth.
"We can see the very real economic benefits of encouraging people to consider striking out on their own and innovating around their particular area of specialism. Our Scottish EDGE fund has invested £3.5 million in around 90 businesses. This leveraged more than £10 million in additional funding, produced almost £14 million in additional turnover and created hundreds of jobs.
"Estimates suggest that the Scottish economy would be boosted by £7.6 billion if we saw the number of women-led businesses increase to the level of those run by men. The figures clearly show that ignoring the gender gap is a far greater risk than simply alienating half of our population – doing nothing is undermining our economies and standing in the way of growing our industries."
Monday marks the start of Global Entrepreneurship Week which will promote the benefits of encouraging people to consider starting their own business.
Commissioner Bieńkowska said: "Supporting more women to become entrepreneurs is very high on my political agenda. Nearly sixteen years into the twenty-first century, women represent fewer than 30% of entrepreneurs in Europe. This is not acceptable and we have to change it."
Margaret Gibson added:
"Women's Enterprise Scotland is delighted to be marking the start of Global Entrepreneurship Week with this event in Brussels. Increasing the number of female entrepreneurs is recognised as a key economic driver across the world, and we're proud that Scotland is leading the way in Europe.
"Support from the Scottish Government has been crucial in enabling us to launch and deliver a Framework designed to support and promote women's business ownership, in partnership with a range of organisations from all sectors. We look forward to developing similar collaborations, and sharing knowledge and expertise across Europe, and beyond, in the future."
Among the resources Scotland CAN DO has developed include an online platform Scotland's Enterprising Schools to share materials with teachers to use in school work encouraging entrepreneurialism and can link them to employers in their areas who could work with them.
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. For more information about the Women's Enterprise Scotland Ambassador programme and the support available to business women visit http://wesambassadors.co.uk.
Women's Enterprise Scotland is 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. More information on Scotland CAN Do can be found here.