The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced £100,000 of new funding for an initiative aimed at driving entrepreneurship among females in Scotland.
The Scottish Chamber of Commerce will partner with the Scottish Association of Business Women to deliver the ‘Future Female Business Leaders’ programme.
The programme draws on Chambers’ skill and experience in connecting entrepreneurs with established business mentors who will provide them with direct support.
It will offer women help as they move into leadership roles, and includes an element to help to stimulate ‘internationalisation’of Scottish business.
Speaking at the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce ‘Women in Business’ lunch, the First Minister said: “Helping more women to set up and succeed in business is both an economic and a moral imperative. By encouraging and supporting women to create and grow businesses, we can create greater equality which in turn builds a stronger and fairer economy.
“The Scottish Chambers represent more than 11,000 companies across the country with a pool of over 1,000 mentors dispersed widely across Scotland. We have invested nearly £400,000 this year on projects to support female entrepreneurship, which includes the Chambers’ Future Female Business Leaders programme.
“It is a scheme which will help some of the next generation of women business leaders as they start their careers. And it will also – if my experiences are anything to go by – provide enlightenment and inspiration for the mentors.
“One of the things that I decided to do as an individual two years ago was to become a mentor to a young woman. It is incredibly valuable to share experiences and insights with people from different backgrounds and with different perspectives.”
Chief Executive, Dr Liz Cameron, OBE, of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, welcomed the announcement. “This is a perfect example of playing to the strengths and connectivity of both the public and private sector. It is an economic priority to ensure that we create an infrastructure which will unlock the outstanding opportunities which exist for females in the workplace enabling more of us to progress to the very top. It will also be a beacon for others to follow, and at the same time, increase the number of successful businesses run by women to grow and expand their businesses.
“Mentoring will be integral to our focus, but it will be in wider terms of bringing together business leaders and other organisations who want to play a role in this development. We are also excited at bringing in an international dimension, identifying potentially new connections and new orders.”
Liz McAreavey, chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce said: “A drive to support more women to succeed in business is not just morally right, but also proven to generate better performance for businesses. More women on boards and in senior positions leads to better innovation, improved sales revenues and margins and increased satisfaction and productivity. For example, McKinsey reports that gender diverse companies are 15 per cent more likely to have financial returns above their national median.
“There is no doubt workplace equality and fairness equals improved business performance. I am delighted with the extra measures announced by the First Minister today and we will work with all engaged parties to ensure they benefit as many women as possible.”