Enterprising Military Wives Welcome Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary to Business Creation Proje
Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work visited the first Business Creation Project in Scotland for Armed Forces’ spouses and partners, at Glencorse Barracks in Penicuik on 6th October.
Accompanied by the Provost of Midlothian (Joe Wallace) and OC (Officer Commanding) Lorne Campbell, the Cabinet Secretary met some of the 21 women who are taking part in the free, 10 week course. Designed to gain insight and confidence on how to start up and run a small business, the course encourages attendees to capitalise on existing skills, identify business ideas and work with those ideas to create and build a new business.
The project has been awarded almost £20,000 from the Armed Forces Covenant and is being delivered by Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES), supported by The Royal Bank of Scotland, Business Gateway, AWS (Army Welfare Service), AFF (Army Families Federation) and HIVE (the information network for all members of the Service community).
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 wives 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 Chair Lynne Cadenhead, commented; “We are delighted with the success of the project so far. Our aim is to inspire, motivate and inform participants on the benefits and challenges of business creation and the processes involved. The military community is resourceful and already there are some very promising ideas coming out from the group and businesses being formed. Supporting enterprise growth is crucial because 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.”
She continued; “Armed Forces’ wives and partners have a huge amount to offer as a pool of talent for economic growth and to date, this pool has been untapped. 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 and innovators. 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 many women, with a view to rolling it out with the support of our partners and stakeholders throughout Scotland and the UK.”
Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, said: “I am delighted to see first-hand the excellent work that Women’s Enterprise Scotland are doing to enable more forces personnel and their families to move into the world of enterprise. This is something we are proud to support through Scotland CAN DO and the Scottish Government’s “Renewing Our Commitments” strategy.
“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 and 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 Kennedy, Regional Director, the Royal Bank of Scotland said, “Royal Bank of Scotland is a strong supporter of the UK Armed Forces. Through our Holts Military Bank, we have been serving the military for 200 years since the Battle of Waterloo. Today we have 40,000 serving military customers and in 2015, we signed the Armed Forces Covenant, confirming our commitment to treat military personnel and their families fairly. At Royal Bank of Scotland, we know it is only right to support those who have given, and those who continue to give so much. We also see how important our part is in supporting their spouses, partners and children to continue their outstanding contribution to society.”
Course participant Liz Dadd said, “The WES Business Creation project has really helped to give me the confidence to take my business idea forward and turn it into a reality. The training we have received and the benefit you get from collaborating with a group of like-minded people has been fantastic. I can’t wait to get Little Red Hen Crafts up and running!”
Course participant Charlotte Park, who runs Treats for Troops, said, “The course has made me realise that I can set up “Treats for Troops” as a social enterprise to help the initiative progress and keep going. I am so glad that I came along and I am very excited about learning more and strengthening the volunteering work that we do.”
Martine McNee, Head of Media Operations for the Army in Scotland said; “One of the main tenets of the Armed Forces is the support our troops receive from home; the more support that the Armed Forces can, in turn, give back to the families, the better. This project will ensure that we can do this much better and maximise the talent we have throughout the whole Army community in Glencorse, and not just those in uniform”