Investment theme: Building skills and confidence, Growing social networks
Transitioning to digital to support women in business
Do you know that women are not only more likely to run service delivery businesses i.e., cleaning or counselling, but they are also more likely to be in what is known as self-employed poverty? Delivering their services and keeping customers happy whilst not growing their businesses or improving their own financial position. Around 90% of what a woman earns will be spent on her family and community therefore it is essential that we help to support women to be as successful as possible.
The Women Business Station (WBS) was created for the usual reason – a significant gap in support for women in managing and growing their own businesses. Following a successful 3-year project ran in conjunction with Coca-Coca to support women in business WBS was set up formally in 2019. Unfortunately like most organisations their plans were significantly affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Their normal face to face workshops and business tours had to be changed and they quickly realised that their primary goal was to support their women in business members in this highly challenging environment.
CEO Angie De Vos says that in early 2020 the strategy changed to: Survive, stabilise, priorities, develop and deliver. They realised early on that they needed to build their digital capacity with speed, and it was here that the Women’s fund for Scotland (WFS) could help. Successfully securing a grant for £2005 in April 2020 and with the support of donations from other organisations and funds they were able to purchase the office equipment, digital software, and personnel support to quickly change their support delivery. They developed new business programmes and widened their network of women using the service. In the first 100 days from the UK March 2020 lockdown, they ran 107 online activities held 48 one to one support meetings, 46 networking and social events alongside business workshops, physical and mental health programmes and other activities supporting 954 participants all whilst moving to an entirely different model of working. In fact, they were so quick to learn how to use digital services they started to train women on this too through a new service called DigiStop – a social media training academy and management service.
One member said
“During COVID lockdowns, I have had great support from the WBS ladies. They helped keep a flame of hope alive for my business by helping me work on my personal and business-related goals. They went above and beyond with the help they gave me, and my business and I feel like I would have given up without them”.
Their current model is a service that women in business can join via a membership scheme. This usually incurs a small cost to the women but depending on their financial capabilities this can be reduced at times. The aim is to help women grow their business through activities such as mentorship, masterclasses and workshops covering topics such as business planning to making successful financial pitches. They also help women network with others in similar situations. Testimonials from members demonstrate how useful this can be:
“a really helpful, safe group of people to network with” & “having the opportunity to connect with others who may struggle with the same issues I have and maybe learn from them while having some fun, social interactions has been invaluable”.
They also have empowerment partners, organisations such as banks and legal firms that offer training and advice on their areas of expertise.
The WBS 10-year plan is “to enhance the socio-economic empowerment of 10,000 women in Scotland by 2030” and we wish them all the best. If you’d like to know more about making a donation to support organisations like WBS via the Women’s Fund for Scotland please get in touch with Shona Blakeley, Executive Director, by emailing email@example.com
Women’s Fund for Scotland has supported the Women’s Business Station with 3 grants totalling £15,405 since December 2019. You can see this information online here: WBS recipient