Enterprising Military Wives Toast the Success of Business Creation Project

Participants of an innovative Business Creation Project designed to develop enterprise skills and encourage business start-up ideas amongst Armed Forces’ spouses and partners last night (Tuesday 3 October) celebrated its success at an event at the Scottish Parliament.

Business owners who completed the ten-week course were joined by Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work and Minister for Veteran Affairs, who heard about the attendees’ experiences and how their businesses have developed since participating in the project. Christine Grahame MSP – whose Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale constituency takes in Glencorse Barracks, where the project took place – also attended the event.

Virginia Vakaloloma, Christine Grahame MSP and Gina Bolatiki

The free, 10-week course took place at the end of last year and was awarded almost £20,000 from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund. It was 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). Designed to gain insight and confidence on how to start up and run a small business, the course encouraged attendees to capitalise on existing skills, identify business ideas and work with those ideas to create and build a new business.

By the end of the course, 76% of participants had started up a business and many are continuing to thrive some 12 months later. Women’s Enterprise Scotland was successful in obtaining further funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund to run a second course, which launched on 13th September.

Melissa MacMillan shows Christine Grahame MSP her movie props

Women’s Enterprise Scotland Chair Lynne Cadenhead, commented; “We were delighted with the success of the 2016 project. Starting up in business is enabling many spouses and partners to capitalise on their existing skills or to take the first steps to turn a passion into a profitable business. The many successful enterprises launched last year include bespoke, personalised gifts, seasonal gift boxes and ready prepared craft packs for children. We are also hugely impressed by the new business ideas emerging from the 2017 cohort, which include monster masks and accessories, a virtual assistant service, a range of bath products, bespoke clothing and hand-made soft furnishings.”

She continued; “Traditional employment can be hard to sustain for the wives and partners of servicemen and women and 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. 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.”

Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, said: ““I am delighted to endorse the excellent work of Women’s Enterprise Scotland and their business creation course initiative. Our veterans, armed forces and their families are an asset to Scotland. Enabling those from armed forces communities to transition into the world of enterprise is something that the Scottish Government has been proud to support through Scotland CAN DO, and this programme is a perfect example of that.”

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