Leading north-east entrepreneur Jeanette Forbes has backed a Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) call for improving access to finance for female business leaders.
Ms Forbes, chief executive of Aberdeen-based information technology firm PCL Group, voiced support for the not-for-profit organisation’s efforts in seeking immediate action from the Scottish Government to address barriers faced by women starting businesses.
It comes in the wake of the newly-released Rose Report, commissioned by the UK Treasury and conducted by Royal Bank of Scotland executive Alison Rose.
The report has underlined the scale of the challenges faced by women founding or building businesses, highlighting that female entrepreneurs typically have to start with only half as much capital as men.
Ms Forbes said yesterday she had struggled to find access to finance on numerous occasions over the years since establishing her business nearly two decades ago.
She added: “Investment is critical for any business looking to scale.
“As a serial entrepreneur operating across several business sectors, I continue to find access to finance difficult, despite the growth track record of my businesses.
“If this were to be improved, it would not only have a dramatic impact for women in business but the economy as a whole.
“We need to be looking at the fact that the banks’ ideas are not in sync with the current marketplace.
“WES have continually highlighted this issue in their research and their think-tank events, which I have been proud to support.”
Ms Forbes urged the Scottish Government to “take the lead and finally put the issue right” in order to achieve a level playing field for men and women.
“It is time to change the landscape,” she said, adding: “There is no substantive progress and it is time to move forward.”
The WES report also highlights that the percentage of all money invested by capital funds for start-ups run by women is at its lowest in a decade – at just 0.5%.
WES chairwoman Lynne Cadenhead said: “Over the past seven years, research by WES has continually shown that women cite access to finance as one of the critical barriers to business growth.
“In the United States, women-owned businesses represent 39% of the business base.
“If we achieved the same level in Scotland, this would contribute in the region of £8 billion additional revenue into the Scottish economy.
“Until robust, collaborative action is taken, we will continue to be in the shameful position where women are unable to unlock their economic potential.”
Ms Cadenhead added: “Now is the time for collaboration across the enterprise ecosystem to deliver our vision of a National Women’s Business Centre, which will offer needs based support designed by experts in gender-specific techniques.
“Access to finance will be a critical aspect of the centre and we are calling for Scotland’s financial services leaders to work with us to drive this forward.”
The Scottish Government failed to respond after being asked about financial support for women entrepreneurs.