New #femaleboss project makes a stand for Scottish women in business

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FUTURE OF EDUCATION

YOUNG Enterprise Scotland (YES) and Royal Bank of Scotland have joined forces to launch the #FemaleBoss programme for Scotland’s college students, to encourage and inspire more women to set up their own businesses.

In Scotland, female-led businesses currently contribute £8.8billion to the economy. But it isn’t just financial success that they contribute to. They form a significant part of our towns and cities by creating employment opportunities, diversifying sector activity, attracting investment and acting as role models and mentors to young people.  

More importantly still, it is estimated that by helping female-led firms achieve future success could add a further £13bn to the local economy. 
Addressing the first session of the #FemaleBoss programme via video link, Cabinet Secretary for Finance Kate Forbes emphasised the value of female entrepreneurship to society. 

She said: “It is estimated that closing the entrepreneurial gender gap could grow the Scottish economy by as much as 5%, creating around 35,000 jobs.

“It is time we realised that economic potential, not just for Scotland’s economic future but also so that women can reap the benefits and share the enthusiasm and excitement of taking control of their own economic future – of being the boss.”

Taking that task on, the #FemaleBoss programme reaches out to 18-30 year-olds through all further education colleges across Scotland. It is delivered through five online sessions variously hosted by female entrepreneurs, an occupational psychologist and business experts giving practical instruction. One session deals exclusively with the digital economy and the importance of a digital mindset for running a 21st century business. 

In total, #FemaleBoss offers support, including small grants, to kick start a business idea, along with coaching, mentoring, and collaboration to help young females succeed. Delivered as part of the YES Bridge 2 Business platform in colleges it hopes to spark female entrepreneurship among students impacted by a shrinking jobs market caused by COVID. 

“Young Enterprise Scotland has a pedigree of 28 years in enterprise education and for the last seven has been the key enterprise education facilitator within Scotland’s FE Colleges via the Bridge 2 Business Programme,” explains YES CEO, Geoff Leask. 

“In partnership with the colleges, we have particularly built a strong track record of engagement with students from disadvantaged groups, most of whom will have had little or no experience of Enterprise Education.

“Self-employment, entrepreneurship, starting a business or freelancing will not have been considered a viable career option in their education experiences to date. This initiative will help to address this issue.”

Paula Ritchie, Regional Enterprise Director for Royal Bank of Scotland (pictured centre below): “Supporting entrepreneurship of any kind is crucial for our country but it is especially true when it comes to female entrepreneurship and the unique challenges they face.

 

“Women have no less potential than men when starting and scaling a business but have to tackle obstacles that others don’t.”  

Royal Bank recently unveiled The Rose Review, a study led by CEO Alison Rose into the challenges faced by women in business. It found that only one in three start-up enterprises are female led. On average females start their business with 50% less capital and receive less than 1% venture capital. But, as well as access to funding, they can also be held back by caring responsibilities and access to mentoring and networking.

Paula continues: “A key factor is ensuring we create the support to help female-led firms overcome these challenges and allow them to unlock their full potential.

“The impact of 2020 is making many females re-evaluate what they want from life, regardless of age or events. Many, through choice or not, are exploring self-employment or taking their idea to the next stage and hopefully, through our work with partners such as YES, more young people will explore this avenue and realise there is support and groups who want them to succeed.

“Many great leaders of all genders and backgrounds share similar mindsets but from my own experience I often find that female business leaders display a sense of purpose combined with compassion, great communication skills and open mindedness. They also display a sense of trust in themselves and show trust and care in their teams. We are dedicated to inspiring women of all ages to consider entrepreneurship and equipping them with the practical tools and support as early as possible in their journey. And it is my passion to help women, or indeed anyone, realise their dream and be the boss.”

As well as working with Royal Bank, YES Bridge 2 Business collaborates with ERASMUS, the Scottish Enterprise Unlocking Ambition Programme, Accenture Digital Skills and College Development Network Awards.www.yes.org 

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Graduate had a gut feeling healthy snack venture would thrive 

NETWORKING and tapping into Scotland’s extensive entrepreneurial eco-system have been critical factors on Lauren Leisk’s journey from pizza waitress to female boss.

Aged just 26, Lauren heads up Fodilicious, an innovative free-from food business that targets a market of 13 million people in the UK who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). 

Having recently launched its first low FODMAP product, Cookie Buttons, the company is growing fast.  

Fodilicious says its product is the UK’s first low FODMAP certified, gut-friendly, bite-sized snack for irritable bowel syndrome, which is also vegan and plant-based, gluten free certified by Coeliac UK, 100% natural and a healthier snack choice that is less than 100 calories.

Since it was set up, Fodilicious has won awards in competitions including Scottish EDGE, the Scottish start-up competition. 

Lauren had not seen herself as a business-owner until the idea for Fodilicious grew as she progressed through university. 

“I started to pitch the idea to friends and family and the more I did my research, the more the idea became a realistic career,” she said. 

“In the food business there is a lot of trial and error, but it’s been fun. 

“I’ve learned to put myself out there, network, get my pitch right because you never know who you’ll meet and be ready to adapt. 

“With the likes of Young Enterprise Scotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland Accelerator programme, Queen Margaret University, my strong personal network and the many competitive funding schemes, I’ve been able to access lots of support and that has really set me up to make a success of my business.”

 

 

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