The research for this project was undertaken between October 2020 and March 2021. This qualitative study was based on 12 focus groups with women entrepreneurs (6 with start-ups and 6 with growth businesses) in 6 regions in Scotland and individual interviews with 12 women entrepreneurs and 26 enterprise support organisation staff in Scotland.
The findings of the report highlight that:
The challenges women entrepreneurs faced were amplified during the pandemic.
The main challenges focussed around the historically reported barriers for women entrepreneurs.
These are access to finance (many sectors dominated by women were first to be hit the hardest and the last to receive financial assistance), networking (understanding how the women entrepreneurs could ensure their businesses were promoted), and social and cultural barriers (for example, childcare and working from home).
Opportunity also arose for many, in learning new skills, exploiting digitisation, and continuing their relationships with their communities.
Enterprise support organisations were quick to attempt to support women entrepreneurs, but much of the support (in particular the financing and funding element) was found to be confusing by women entrepreneurs and did not consider the heterogeneity of women and their roles.