National business advice service Business Gateway has unveiled its annual review for 2018-2019 which shows that last year Business Gateway provided support to 44,808 customers, assisting organisations across the business spectrum from growth firms to start-ups.
The number of new businesses created over the last 12 months with Business Gateway support was 9,083, with half of those assisted being led by women.
Seven per cent of start-ups were from ethnic minorities, nearly double the proportion of people from ethnic minority groups in the population.
The figures also demonstrate Business Gateway’s commitment to working with clients across the whole of Scotland with more than a quarter (26%) of new start-up firms and 25% of growth firms supported coming from the country’s rural areas.
A key element of the service again this year has been the technology training programme DigitalBoost which helps companies develop or enhance their digital capabilities, offering support in a variety of areas including website design and social media.
More than 5,000 people attended DigitalBoost workshops in 2018-19 with more than 7,000 guides downloaded and over 2,500 online tutorials viewed.
Commenting on the review, Steven Heddle, Chair of the Business Gateway Board, said: “Business Gateway has helped over 9,000 people start a business over the last year and we continue to support the ambition for Scotland to be a leading entrepreneurial country and one which aspires to create inclusive growth and a fair working environment.
“I am particularly pleased to see that the number of women starting businesses with our support has risen to 50% of our start-up activity and that 7% of our start-ups are from ethnic minorities.
“Over the past year, the global economy has been dominated by the uncertainties arising from Brexit, polarised positions on world trade and diverging views on the important issue of climate change and that uncertainty seems to be playing out in reduced investment in growth by businesses.”
Reflecting this uncertainty, this year’s figure of 9,083 for start-ups supported was slightly down (0.5%) from last year’s 9,129 while the number for growth companies was down 6.8% from 3,166 to 2,951.
Steven Heddle continued: “It is good, therefore, to see Business Gateway continuing to deliver the support and make the connections which enable our businesses to realise their potential and achieve their ambitions.
“It’s also important to highlight the value of our collaborative approach with colleagues across the business environment. Working with the enterprise agencies and other partners, we have achieved a great deal, from the Prepare For Brexit website, which is helping Scottish businesses plan for an uncertain future, to our joint activity on improving the business support landscape.”
Managed and delivered by Scotland’s Local Authorities, Business Gateway forms part of a range of economic development and business support activity that Councils deliver in partnership with enterprise agencies and other key players in Scotland’s business support landscape.