Pathways forward spotlights gender equality in Scottish entrepreneurship

EOS Advisory - Ana Stewart All images © Stewart Attwood Photography 2023. All other rights are reserved. Use in any other context is expressly prohibited without prior permission. No Syndication Permitted except for PA (Press Association)

IN A pivotal stride towards fostering gender equality in entrepreneurship, Ana Stewart’s Pathways Forward programme is gearing up for its latest event, “Pathways in Investment,” set to take place at the esteemed BGF office in Edinburgh on Thursday, November 16th. The event, which will be live-streamed, promises an engaging panel discussion featuring industry stalwarts and thought leaders.

The distinguished panel includes Fiona Dornan from BGF, Niki McKenzie from Archangels, Malcolm Kpedekpo from Panoramic Growth Equity, and the visionary Ana Stewart herself. The panel will be expertly chaired by former BBC broadcaster and Freer Consultancy associate Vanessa Collingridge, adding another layer of expertise to the discussion.

Investment holds a significant position among the five main strands outlined in the Pathways report. As Stewart notes, the timing of the event is particularly pertinent, coinciding with a surge in investment support announcements in Scotland. Notable among these are the British Business Bank’s £150 million Investment Fund and the £100 million fund managed by Par Equity, with the Scottish National Investment Bank as a cornerstone investor.

Stewart acknowledges the positive impact these funds can have on high-growth potential companies in Scotland. However, she also underscores the importance of addressing the gender gap in accessing such funding. Despite recent funding initiatives, there remains a risk that female entrepreneurs may continue to face challenges in securing investment.

Stewart emphasises the need for collective efforts to dismantle barriers hindering women from starting and leading businesses. Recognizing the existence of untapped talent, she believes that overcoming these challenges will not only contribute to individual success but also fuel economic growth.

The Pathways in Investment event comes on the heels of significant financial commitments by the Scottish Government. Cabinet Secretary Neil Gray recently announced £2.9 million in funding for women and other priority groups. The funds are split between the Ecosystem Fund, benefiting 42 recipients with £1.6 million, and the Pre-Start Pathways Fund, which allocates £1.3 million to 20 projects. This initiative aligns with a key recommendation of the Stewart Report: the establishment of pop-up ‘pre-start’ centres across Scotland, aiming to facilitate women’s access to entrepreneurial pathways.

As the Pathways Forward initiative gains momentum since its launch in September 2023, it reflects the commitment to transform gender equality in Scottish entrepreneurship. The cornerstone of this transformative journey is the Pathways report, co-authored by Mark Logan, the chief entrepreneurial adviser to the Scottish Government.

In conclusion, the upcoming “Pathways in Investment” panel event not only signifies a significant step forward in addressing gender disparities in entrepreneurship but also highlights the collaborative efforts required to tap into the vast pool of untapped talent, ultimately propelling Scotland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to new heights.

For those eager to engage in this crucial conversation, the live-streamed panel is scheduled between 1-2 pm on Thursday, November 16th. Details on how to join can be found here.

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