Scotland Leads the Way for South East Europe in Women's Enterprise and Angel Funding

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Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) hosted the prestigious South-East Europe Women’s Business Angel Network (SEEWBAN) in Edinburgh on the 6th and 7th July 2017, looking at how to improve access to finance for women-led businesses.

WES - the not-for-profit Community Interest Company (CIC) which focuses on the contribution women's enterprise makes to the Scottish economy - has been appointed to the project as the expert organisation in women’s enterprise and access to finance. The WES team will share their financial and gender expertise and work in collaboration with women’s business associations from across Europe to grow the numbers of female business angels and mixed gender business angel consortia which invest in women-led businesses.

The SEEWBAN project, which is funded by the European Union, focuses on the development of Women Business Angels networks in 7 different countries: Greece, Cyprus, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy and UK (Scotland). It is expected that as a result of the project, around 2.4 million Euros will be invested in new women-led businesses.

Representatives from the seven countries attended the two-day summit, hosted by law firm Maclay Murray Spens at their Quartermile offices.

Access to finance is regularly cited as a challenge for women starting up in business. In research conducted by WES in 2016, 48% of respondents said they were looking for financial support. Business angel investing is an essential source of funding, especially for early stage and start-up businesses. A survey of European Business Angel Network (EBAN) members has determined that less than 5% are women (White Paper – Women and Early Stage Business Angel Investing, EBAN 2010). Yet women now control 30% of the world’s wealth, up 5% from five years ago and estimated to grow another 7% in the next five years.

WES Chair Lynne Cadenhead, an entrepreneur and investor, commented:

“Angel investment has traditionally been a male dominated activity but there is growing acknowledgement of the value to be gained from investing in women-led businesses. Women have a different approach to business start-up and growth and there is a growing body of research which points to a greater return on investment and overall sustainability from ventures led by women. Achieving greater gender-balance across investment portfolios makes good business sense."

Scotland has considerable expertise in business angel investment, with 21 business angel syndicates investing in a range of start-up and growth companies.

Mary Jane Brouwers, Director of LINC Scotland, said:

“LINC Scotland has a long track record in supporting the development of the business angel ecosystem and particularly welcomes initiatives to help unlock the full potential of female entrepreneurs here in Scotland and out across the EU.”

The two-day SEEWBAN summit was also supported by the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB), Par Equity, Archangels, Scotland Can Do and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Access to finance enables women-led businesses to grow and it is a core theme within the Strategic Framework and Action Plan for Women’s Enterprise in Scotland, the first of its kind in Europe and co-founded by WES and the Scottish Government. The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) partners with WES to support women-led businesses through their Women in Business Specialist staff and the bank is a member of the implementation group for the Strategic Framework and Action Plan for Women’s Enterprise in Scotland.

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