Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) - the community interest company which works to close the gender gap in enterprise participation – has launched the first crowdfunding platform of its kind for women-led businesses.
Developed with support from Royal Bank of Scotland and The Productivity Institute, the platform is running initially as a pilot, with nine businesses from across Scotland taking part. They vary from drinks and food manufacturers to social enterprises and a trademark and patent specialist. The crowdfunding campaigns will run until 30 November and are looking to raise anything from £2000 to £25,000.
Carolyn Currie, CEO at Women’s Enterprise Scotland said, “As a research-led organisation, we are all too aware that access to finance is an enduring challenge for women starting up and growing a business. Our new crowdfunding platform ensures women get gender specific, wrap around support to help them throughout the finance raising process. In effect, this is the women’s entrepreneurial community putting their arms around women start-ups at the beginning and early stages of their business journey and giving them the crucial support they need at the crucial important finance raising stage.”
Improving access to finance to create a more gender equal economy is one of the five pillars of the WES Manifesto for Change, launched in 2021. Currently, women launch businesses with 53% less capital then men1. The British Business Bank reported there has been no improvement in the share of venture capital investment received by female founder teams over the past decade. All-female founder teams received just 2% of funding2.
Judith Cruickshank, Chair, One Bank Scotland Board, said: “From our own research at Royal Bank of Scotland, access to funding and support in finding where to go is perceived as a key challenge for entrepreneurs, especially so for female-led businesses.
“We’re delighted to be able to work with Women’s Enterprise Scotland and The Productivity Institute in helping deliver this crowdfunding campaign and offer start-up and scale-ups across all sectors the support to thrive.”
One of the ten businesses included in the new crowdfunding platform is Midlothian-based Supernature Oils. Founded in 2011, the company produces multi award-winning cold pressed rapeseed oil and infused oils from a family run tenanted farm in Gorebridge.
Supernature Oils founder Lynn Mann is looking to raise £25,000 to help fund a £50,000 fully automated bottling line which will significantly increase capacity and improve what is currently a labour intensive process. Commenting on the launch of the platform, she said; “The Women’s Enterprise Scotland team recognise that women-led businesses need tailored support. Having the opportunity to take part in this pilot allows Supernature Oils the chance to access finance which we need to unlock the next stage of our growth. There is no doubt that a gender specific crowdfunding platform has been long overdue, it is yet another way to make finance more accessible to women led businesses whilst at the same time providing tailored support and advice.”
The total transaction value of the UK’s Crowdfunding market is expected to reach £50m in 2023. Crowdfunding can be particularly powerful for women-owned businesses, as it provides an important alternative funding source whilst appealing to a growing trend for impact investing.