Grant funding report of female led companies in Scotland amid the covid-19 pandemic

Our latest report in collaboration with Women’s Enterprise Scotland reveals the gender disparity in access to grant funding by Scotland’s women-led companies[1] during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Analysis of data of grants from the £30 million Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund (CTHEHF) and the £120 million Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund (PERF) has revealed that women-led companies were just 13.3% of the total successful applications for grant funding. The overall value of funding received by women was only 10.6% of the total funding deployed.

The funds were made available in 2020 and were designed to provide additional grant funding to SMEs which are vital to Scotland’s local or national economy but had been made vulnerable by the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to tourism, hospitality, and creative industry companies which were experiencing hardship as a result of COVID-19.

Female led companies received 15.7% of the CTHEHF funding and for PERF, it was just 9.7%. Men were more likely than women to gain funding across every industry sector, including the care sector, which is heavily dominated by women. In the majority of local authority regions (17 out of 32) women-led companies received less than 10% of the total grant funding and three regions allocated no PERF grants to women-owned/led companies at all.

Commenting on the data, WES CEO Carolyn Currie said, “This data provides us with a stark insight on the grant funding received by women-led companies during the pandemic. Even when grant support is made available to businesses, structural inequalities prevail and limit women’s access to crucial funding. Urgent, targeted action is required to ensure women’s businesses in Scotland can access the financial resources they need to recover, grow and make their rightful contribution to the Scottish economy.”

Access to finance is one of five core themes in the Women in Enterprise Strategic Framework and Action Plan, co-developed by WES and the Scottish Government in 2014 and refreshed in 2017. The 2017 update highlighted the importance of measurement and gender-disaggregated data.

Currie continued, “Now is the time to implement a Women’s Business Centre model, provide the expert business support women business owners need and train more advisers in the provision of gender-aware business support. Gender diversity powers radical, step-change innovation and Scotland needs women’s businesses to boost our productivity. We are grateful to mnAI for their assistance with this analysis and look forward to working together with them in the future to provide the data and insight required to achieve transformational economic growth.”

Research in 2018 found women-owned companies contribute £8.8bn gross value add into the Scottish economy every year and have created over 230,000 jobs, equating to 13% of private sector employment in Scotland.  

mnAI CEO and Founder, John Cushing commented; ‘’We are delighted to partner with Woman’s Enterprise Scotland and provide them with the vital data, insight and analysis on the Scottish SME landscape that will power the research needed to both inform decision making and to champion female entrepreneurship across Scotland.” 

[1] 3657 businesses across Scotland benefited from £145.3m of grants through the Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund (CTHEHF) and the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund (PERF) fund. Of the 3657 businesses, 70% were identified as Ltd companies. The mnAI platform has enabled the gender analysis of the 70% of businesses identified as Limited Companies.

Learn more about our project to visualise female entrepreneurship across the UK at The Gender Index 

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