Women in Scotland are leading the way in doing business for good

March 8, 2018

Women are leading the way in social enterprise, a Scottish business conference heard today, on International Women’s Day (Thursday 8 March).

Three of Scotland’s most ambitious female social entrepeneurs are among the expert panellists at the Investing Women Ambition & Growth 2018 conference in the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Edinburgh today. Investing Women is a rapidly growing community of women angel investors, female entrepeneurs and leadership professionals.

Susan Aktemel, director of property management company Homes for Good, Celia Hodson, founder of period poverty social enterprise Hey Girls, and entrepreneur and Firstport board member Lisa Tennant were on an expert panel, discussing how to incorporate social impact into growing start-ups.

The discussion was hosted by Josiah Lockhart, Chief Executive of Firstport, Scotland’s social enterprise development agency. He said: “There is no doubt that women are leading the way in social enterprise in Scotland. There is an estimated 5,600 social enterprises operating in Scotland – and 64% of them are now led by women, according to the Social Enterprise Census 2017. The same pattern is emerging in newer enterprises - 57% of the start-ups we support at Firstport are women.

“Many of them, like Susan Aktemel, who secured investment for Homes for Good through our LaunchMe accelerator programme, are attracting interest from private investors keen to see a social as well as financial return.”

Susan Aktemel said: “It is entirely possible to create exciting, high growth businesses which generate both financial return for investors and achieve significant social impact at the same time. We have proven this in the last four years at Homes for Good. If you can make money and also change people's lives for the better, why would you do it any other way?"

Jackie Waring, Investing Women CEO, said: “'Purpose is the new currency. Scotland is rich in social innovators and entrepreneurs; so many women excel in 'more than profit' ventures achieving positive change as well as profit, growth and scale. There is a wealth of untapped talent in Scotland – both in potential women angels and female entrepreneurs.”

The conference was followed by an Awards Dinner, a celebration of Scotland’s top female-led companies and the AccelerateHER Growth Awards, with speaker Jenny Campbell, entrepreneur and the newest ‘Dragon’ on BBC TV’s Dragon’s Den.

Josiah Lockhart presented the Social Innovator award in the Ambition category of the AccelerateHER Awards to Anya Roy of gynaecological health company, Syrona Women, Firstport awardee Lily Asch of Real Talk, a business focused on promoting positive mental health, won the Young Entrepeneur award.


For further information please contact Carol Stewart, Head of Communications, on 07944 060322 or carol@firstport.org.uk

Notes to editor

About Firstport

Firstport is Scotland’s development agency for start-up social entrepreneurs and social enterprise. We work with people to stimulate, test and grow their ideas into viable social businesses. We do this by providing a full package of support that includes seed funding, free business support, practical resources and connections to help them make their ideas a reality. We run Scotland’s only social enterprise accelerator, LaunchMe, and a number of place-based programmes. www.firstport.org.uk

About Investing Women

Investing Women is Scotland’s only all-female business angel group and a dynamic and growing community of women angel investors and entrepreneurs. The group’s CEO and founder is Jackie Waring, an accomplished businesswoman who has advised the UK Government on encouraging and supporting female entrepreneurialism. Jackie was also the UK’s first Advisory Board Member to the Global Banking Alliance for Women, based in Washington DC.