Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) is nurturing the hidden talents and entrepreneurial spirit of Armed Forces’ spouses and partners with the launch of a pilot Business Creation Project designed to develop enterprise skills and encourage business start up ideas.
The project has been awarded almost £20,000 from the Armed Forces Covenant and will be delivered by WES, supported by The Royal Bank of Scotland, Business Gateway, AFF (Army Families Federation) and HIVE (the information network for all members of the Service community). It will run from Glencorse Barracks in Penicuik, home to The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland – RHF (2 SCOTS), over 10 weeks, starting from 25th August.
WES – the community interest company which focuses on the contribution women’s enterprise makes to the Scottish economy – applied for funding from the Armed Forces Covenant after recognising that traditional employment can be hard to sustain for the spouses and partners of servicemen and women. Whilst many may consider starting their own businesses, this is often ruled out as a career option due to a lack of insight into and awareness of what is involved with the business start up process.
Women’s Enterprise Scotland CEO Margaret Gibson, commented; “Our project will inspire, motivate and inform attendees on the benefits and challenges of business creation and the processes involved. It is rooted in the community and grown out of a specific local need. We know there is currently a real lack of any business creation programme with a gender-appropriate approach and childcare provision for the spouses and partners of servicemen and women in the Edinburgh area. These are people, who typically have a wealth of talents, including resilience, flexibility and resourcefulness. Many do not pursue traditional employment opportunities due to the demands of a military focused lifestyle, yet their resilience and capacity to adapt can make them ideal entrepreneurs. Scotland needs to encourage more women into the enterprise sector. We want this project to serve as a pilot scheme in unlocking the talents of more women, with a view to rolling it out with the support of our partners and stakeholders throughout Scotland.”
The Business Creation Project encompasses a free 10 week course for 1.5 hours per week, where attendees will be helped to develop business ideas, match existing skills and gain information and confidence on how to start up and run a small business. Crèche facilities will be provided to enable those with no access to childcare to participate and this will be backed up by a private online forum for spouses unable to attend the weekly sessions due to other commitments. A dedicated website will provide information on business creation and local sources of help and support.
It is hoped that up to 70 spouses and partners will receive support from WES to generate a business idea, meet other likeminded women and benefit from ongoing connections within the local business community.
Captain Scott Shaw, Unit Welfare Officer for 2 SCOTS said; “We are delighted to be working with Women’s Enterprise Scotland to deliver this innovative project and we look forward to nurturing the enterprise skills of the spouses and partners of our Regiment.”
Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise, Royal Bank of Scotland, said; “We know the enormous value that female entrepreneurs can add to the economy, but we also know the different challenges women sometimes face. This is why the Royal Bank of Scotland is such a longstanding partner of Women’s Enterprise Scotland. Their Armed Forces Business Creation Project is an excellent, innovative approach to getting more women into enterprise. To help our female customers succeed in business, we are training our people to be Women in Business specialists, accredited by the Chartered Banker Institute (the trading name of the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland) and certified by Everywoman, to understand their ambitions and provide the business advice, mentoring and networking opportunities they need.”
Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, said: “I am delighted to endorse this excellent new collaboration between Women’s Enterprise Scotland and the Armed Forces Covenant. Enabling more ex-forces personnel to move into the world of enterprise is something we have been proud to support through Scotland CAN DO. However, entrepreneurship is largely about finding and exploring new markets and, by working with the partners of servicemen and women, this new project can be said to be a perfect example of that. As Veterans Minister I can testify to the remarkable resilience and skills found within the armed forces community. It makes sense that if we are to be a world-leading entrepreneurial and innovative nation those special attributes are realised to the full.”
Margaret Gibson concluded; “We know that if the number of women-led businesses in Scotland increased to equal those of men, our national bank balance would be at least 5% better off. That’s equivalent to a £7.6 billion boost to the economy. Armed Forces’ wives, spouses and partners have a huge amount to offer as a pool of talent for economic growth and to date, this pool has been untapped. As part of our mission to improve the gender gap in Scottish entrepreneurial activity, we are delighted to be working with 2 SCOTS to deliver the first Business Creation Project of its kind.”
Pictured L to R, Carolyn Currie (WES), Aimee King, her daughter Sophia King, Scott Shaw (Unit Welfare Officer), Sam Craig holding Aimee’s daughter Emily King. © Malcolm Cochrane Photography No syndication. No reproduction without permission.