Blogs News

Welcome Q+A with our new Digital Marketing Co-ordinator, Meghan McKee

Welcome to the Can Do Team Meghan, we’re delighted to have you! Tell us a bit about yourself…

My name is Meghan, and I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the Scotland Can Do team as the Digital Marketing Coordinator. I graduated in 2020 with a degree in English and Acting, which was where I developed my passion for content creation, Marketing, and Copywriting.

I try to be a jack-of -all-trades when it come to creativity and I love to try new things, which is excellent for Marketing.

Since graduating I have gained experience in broadcasting, writing, and digital marketing, and I love putting these skills to good use.

What was it that attracted you to working with Can Do?

The entrepreneurial ecosystem is something that I suddenly found myself in the middle of during the pandemic where I worked alongside some talented start-up and scale-up business owners. I truly got the sense that Scotland is abundant with incredible talent and that we should be recognised for that.

Having previously worked for a small business as their Digital Marketer, I got to grips with how much goes on behind the scenes for both the businesses themselves, and the organisations that help them.

This role came at the most perfect time for me, and I was over the moon when I got the job as I knew that so many amazing things happen within Scotland Can Do and Entrepreneurial Scotland.

What are you looking forward to the most about your role?

I cannot wait to just start sharing all the fantastic news and stories that come from members of the Can Do Collective. It is so exciting to see all the brilliant work that they do and I am very privileged to have a role where I can really showcase how innovate Scotland is.  I am also so excited to share the passion of the organisation outwardly in whatever way I can as that is something I find so inspirational and highly beneficial to Scotland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Just for fun: What’s your coffee order and favourite café?

I am super boring when it comes to coffee… I love a soya latte or if I am really needing a caffeine hit, I’ll opt for an americano.

I absolutely love Portobello, so if I find myself strolling along the prom, I’ll most definitely end up in Miro’s café.

Have a question or want to connect with Meghan? Get in touch at

Blogs News

Welcome Q&A with Nicola Smith, SCQF

New Can Do Partner, Nicola Smith, Development Officer at Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership (SCQF), joins us to discuss her role within the organisation and her passion for collective impact….

Hi Nicola, welcome to Can Do! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?:

I am the Development Officer responsible for employer engagement at the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Partnership.  I help organisations make their recruitment as wide and inclusive as possible by increasing their understanding of the range of alternative qualifications being taken across Scotland and beyond, and of the skills and experience people may have developed that are comparable to these qualifications. 

About Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership?

The SCQF is Scotland’s national qualifications framework and provides a way of recognising, describing and comparing the difficulty and notional time taken to achieve of a whole range of qualifications and learning programmes.  In addition to mainstream qualifications, the SCQF also contains vocational and skills-based qualifications, and learning programmes developed and delivered in the workplace or community. 

What motivated you to become a Scotland Can Do Partner?

I love the idea of collaboration for collective impact.  If we all work together then we can achieve far greater things than we can by ourselves.

How do you contribute to the Scotland Can Do ambition; for Scotland to be the most entrepreneurial and innovative society for all?

By properly recognising the wide range of skills and abilities that we all have, we can make sure that everyone can reach their full potential, and play a part in Scotland’s success.

Just for fun… What is the most true stereotype of Scottish people or Scotland?

I love that fact that Scottish people are generally very friendly and will talk to anyone.  I have had some amazing conversations on the bus with complete strangers.

If you would like help to make your recruitment as inclusive as possible by understanding the range of alternative qualifications available in Scotland, visit SQCF or email:


Can Do Collabs News

It’s been a busy few weeks for our Can Do Collabs! From engaging with Scottish Government Ministers, to participating in COP26, and hosting community events, there’s been lots to keep up-to-date on and celebrate! We thought we’d take the opportunity to share a little bit of background on Collabs for those less familiar with them, as well as share a summary of current activity and progress! 


The Collective has been wrestling with a big question: “How can we support more Can Do partners, from diverse spheres of influence, to actively and effectively work together to positively impact Scotland’s entrepreneurial landscape?” In 2020, we set out to tackle this challenge, by developing Collabs and turning good will and intent into action, through offering interested Partners training in practical innovation tools and methodologies to support collaboration. 

Inspired by the Collective Impact methodology, Collabs are working groups that enable actors from different worlds to collaborate around common themes, to proactively address issues their communities are grappling with. They involve and engage both those who can impact, and will be impacted by, the outcomes. Designed to increase the odds of success and amplify positive impact, Collabs provide a structure to bring forward solutions for issues which prevent growth for Scotland, through the sharing of knowledge, expertise, research, and best practice.  

What outcomes would we like to see as a result of Collabs? 

  • Practical business tools and solutions to address key challenges 
  • Harnessing the intellectual capital of Collective 
  • Suggestions for positive policy change 
  • Improving business confidence and resilience 
  • Honest and clear answers regarding barriers to policy or funding 

What’s New?

There are three active Collabs that are working together and supporting continuous communications between Partners and The Scottish Government, through a series of Ministerial roundtables.  In October the Collab Chairs had the opportunity to meet with Mr Ivan McKee, Scottish Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, to strengthen the spirit of collaboration between them, while raising awareness of the potential for Collabs to deliver real benefits for Scotland. They also explored how Collabs could support the National Strategy for Economic Transformation. 

Green Economy: Supporting entrepreneurial businesses in the drive for a greener, more sustainable, net-zero economy. Co-Chaired by Kirsty Black, Arbikie Highlands Estate & Josiah Lockhart, Firstport 

What have they been up to? 

  • Gathering market research about climate action within Scottish businesses, results from which will help evidence support and investment needed in the sector. It will also shape the direction of travel for the Collabs as they champion sustainable practices in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. You can complete and share the survey here 
  • Collab member, Jo Chidley, Founder of Beauty Kitchen has teamed up with others to present ICE Hub Glasgow during COP26 and beyond, as a collaborative space to connect delegates, business leaders, policy makers and the public around climate solutions.  
  • Presenting updates and sharing ambitions at Can Do Collective’s quarterly gathering this month before having a deeper dive roundtable with Ministers early next year. 

Youth & Next Generation: Supporting the next generation of talent into ‘good’ jobs through engagement with Scotland’s entrepreneurial businesses, whether in those businesses or by creating their own. Chaired by Geoff Leask, Young Enterprise Scotland 

What have they been up to? 

  • Following October’s roundtable, the Youth and Next Generation Collab went on to engage with Mr Jamie Hepburn, Scottish Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training. Convened by Colin Cook, Director for Economic Development, Scottish Government, the Collab shared their recommendations to bring parity of esteem for the next generation of talent as they plan their entrepreneurial future, by outlining and discussing the challenges and opportunities for youth enterprise. They’re now following up with next steps. 

Scale up: Supporting better quality and number of scale-ups in Scotland. Chaired by Sandy Kennedy, IGS Limited 

What have they been up to? 

  • Building on the foundations laid by the Logan Report, the Collective Impact methodology, and ongoing Scale research work over the past 3 years, the Collab successfully hosted a series of six summer workshops with a range of stakeholders. The aim was to gain input for a Scottish Government commissioned report that will set out a shared, systems method to supporting Scottish scale up businesses. 
  • In November, the Collab hosted a virtual event and welcomed wider input and comments from The Collective, to enrich the drafted Scale Up Ecosystem Report. 
  • Hosted Saltire Scholar, Allyson Smith, to support the delivery of the workshops and develop international comparisons research, which will be featured in the report.  
  • The final report is to be completed later this month, before it’s publicly available. 

What’s Next? 

We hope to bring you more information into the new year about opportunities to get involved with the existing and new Collabs. For now here are a few ways you can engage with the work of the Collabs and follow their journey: 

We’d love to hear from you if you have ideas on issues/subjects which would warrant the focus of a new Collab. Drop us a line via  


Scotland Can Do Partners join Resilient Leadership Catalyst 2021

Scotland Can Do is a national initiative, funded by the Scottish Government, to accelerate entrepreneurship and innovation through collaboration, to help tackle our country’s biggest challenges. At the heart of Scotland Can Do is a joined-up, multisector community of over 70 partners who all support entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial endeavours across different sectors, sizes and geographies. Together known as the Can Do Collective, this community of like-minded leaders are on a mission to provide enterprise and skills support that will enable individuals, and businesses of all kinds, to make a positive impact in Scotland and beyond.

One of the key elements for growing a strong and thriving entrepreneurial community is investing in the leadership capacity of ecosystem partners. That is why Scotland Can Do is committed to deepening the skills, confidence and connections of Can Do Collective partners, so that the impact they deliver is amplified and positively influences not only their organisational contexts, but the growth of the wider ecosystem.

Following a successful pilot in Dec 2020 on the topic of Navigating Volatility, this winter the Scotland Can Do programme has launched a bespoke Resilient Leadership Catalyst programme. This unique, immersive learning experience will take place virtually across two cohorts, in November 2021 and March 2022. It has been designed for leaders who belong to the Can Do Collective and are ready to amplify their impact and positively influence their organisations, the entrepreneurial ecosystem and Scotland. 

“I was very excited about the opportunity to finally go to Babson College, even if only online, through the Catalyst programme and thoroughly enjoyed the interesting, thought provoking and entertaining sessions with Jay Rao.  However, of equal if not more value was the chance to reflect on what we’d learned and the challenges we’d faced with my peers in the Can Do Collective.” – Evelyn McDonald, CEO, Scottish EDGE (2020 Participant)

“Taking part in the Catalyst opportunity, Navigating Volatility with Babson, was a very timely and beneficial experience to me both personally and organisationally. The pandemic brought along so many uncertainties and the programme was able to strengthen existing methodologies of leadership and add value through the insights of the experts on the programme both from Babson and fellow participants. Highly Recommended!” – Geoff Leask, CEO, Young Enterprise Scotland (2020 Participant)

The Resilient Leadership Catalyst will provide a blend of structed and self-guided learning across 3-months for 10 Can Do Collective partners. The learning experience will stretch the boundaries of participants’ thinking, and enable them to apply new insight, learning and perspectives back into their organisation and their work in partnership across the ecosystem. The programme will enable the participants to learn from peers, share best practice, and connect with international experts in their field, whilst showcase the breadth and productivity of Collective partners.

Introducing the 2021 Can Do Cohort:

Caroline Wylie, Director of Finance & Projects, Challenges Group

Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director, Converge

Elizabeth Pirrie, Chief Opertaing Officer, Investing Women & AccelerateHER

Ghillean Macleod, Senior Project Manager, Highlands & Islands Enterprise

Howell Davies, Sector Engagement Manager, Interface

Kirsty Bathgate, Director, Gearing for Growth

Lindsay Wake, Head of Impact, Social Investment Scotland

Nick Murray, Co-Director, Startup Grind Scotland

Seemab Farooqi, Lecturer, University of Dundee School of Business

Rachel Wallace, Programme Manager, Entrepreneurial Scotland

We asked participants what attracted them to the programme and what they’re most looking forward to.

“I am a Saltire Fellow from the 2014 cohort which means I have spent almost 4 months studying entrepreneurship at Babson College. It’s then that my leadership journey started and never really ended. When I heard about the opportunity to join the Catalyst programme as an eco-system leader, I rushed to secure a place. Babson’s approach to leadership is absolutely unique and I look forward to challenging myself once again, to get comfortable being uncomfortable and to progress my leadership journey for my benefit but also for the benefit of my team and the Scottish entrepreneurial eco-system we support.” – Claudia Cavalluzzo

“The Resilient Leadership Catalyst has come along at just the right time for me. I had been investigating learning opportunities to enhance my leadership skills, when the email from Scotland Can Do arrived in my inbox and it was exactly what I was looking for. The opportunity to learn through Babson College whilst studying alongside my colleagues in the Scotland Can Do Collective is just the right balance of global outlook and local impact. I can’t wait to get stuck in and see what the 2021 cohort can learn and achieve together” – Elizabeth Pirrie

Explore the website to learn more or visit our partnership page to learn about how to provide support and enquire about joining The Collective!


Dr. Seemab Farooqi, University of Dundee School of Business

Introducing new Can Do Partner Dr. Seemab Farooqi, Professor of HR & Entrepreneurship at the University of Dundee….

Hi Seemab, welcome to Can Do! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?:

I have always been interested in engaging with the public sector. Before joining academia I worked with the Canadian International Development Agency and while I was there, I was engaged in their capacity building workshops, across multiple local councils. It was interacting with public servants, and local councillors, that gave me the inspiration to work on examining how public services are delivered and the role of frontline bureaucracy in policy making.

That is where my journey in academia started, at Stirling University. I did my PhD in Public Sector Management there and worked with some fantastic people. Then I moved to Loughborough University, because I was thinking of moving my family to England. However, I missed Scotland too much.

I came back to Scotland and started working within Dundee university. I was inspired by its focus on transforming lives and making an impact. I worked in the corporate sector before joining academia but it never gave me the satisfaction, the way working in academia gives me.

About your role at the University of Dundee?

I’m a Human Resource Management lecturer, however, I also teach entrepreneurship at postgraduate level. My research interests are in contemporary Public Policy Management reforms, strategy, gender and entrepreneurship. I also teach change management at the university with the third year and fourth year undergraduate students. And I’m the equality, diversity and inclusion coordinator for the Business School.

We really want to make the Business School a more inclusive place. For example, we have proposed to run a webinar panel discussion on digitalization and the issues associated with equality, diversity and inclusion. We have proposed to the search committee that we should run this seminar and invite fintechs from developing countries like Pakistan, and fintechs from Scotland. We also have proposed to invite policymakers and various agencies and academics from within UK and EU. Because the whole idea of this panel discussion is to help all these players network with each other, creating the connections between academics and industry.

What motivated you to become a Scotland Can Do Partner?

I came to know about the Can Do because I met Tom Craig, who works in the Enterprise Team at The Scottish Government. I attended an impact series seminar he was talking at, sharing how academics can engage with the civil servants and people who are in the government. I was doing a research paper on Scotland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem so we talked about the Collective and Can Do Places. He then introduced me to Ian Scott and invited me to the last Can Do Collective Meeting and I was really impressed that the Collective is actively trying to connect different people together and provide them a platform to have a conversation and collaborate. I think in order to make research more meaningful; you need to work with other people, people who are engaged in various activities, I think that is the key. You are doing fantastic work.

How do you contribute to the Scotland Can Do ambition; for Scotland to be the most entrepreneurial and innovative society for all?

At the moment I am carrying out research on the role of entrepreneurial support organisation’s during this Covid 19 crisis and how this has impacted social enterprises. I would like to share that research with Can Do Partners and also learn from others, how things are happening at the ground level? I think that’s how you can make an impact and make your research more meaningful, it’s just not just publishing it in a journal.

I’m also going to be researching to what extent Can Do Places has made an impact on local communities to promote entrepreneurship.

Just for fun… What is your go to coffee order/favourite coffee spot?

I like black coffee, with milk. There is a coffee bothy here in Stirling and it’s also a farmhouse. So that’s my favourite place to go and enjoy my cup of coffee. I don’t want to sit inside a shop. I like to sit and enjoy the outside and see what’s happening, I like to see happy faces.

Case Studies News

Can Do Partners collaborate to deliver online Inclusion & Awareness workshops

Introduction: Stephanie Anderson works at Scottish Enterprise (SE) as a Project Manager for Entrepreneurial & Ecosystem Development. Working on everything from infrastructure and large development projects to casual business advice and supporting sectors with international opportunities, SE supports economic development plans across the central belt and the Northeast of Scotland.

Stephanie and her team work with company founders and businesses to develop their entrepreneurial and leadership skills, supporting them to build successful companies of scale. As part of their remit, they were responsible for the delivery of a series of Inclusion Awareness Workshops in March 2021.

Collective: Scottish Enterprise procured several business support organisations in January and February, to support the successful delivery of the workshops. They appointed three partners who each believe in the Scotland Can Do mission: AAI Employability; Tree of Knowledge; and Social Investment Scotland, all of which came together to form the series.

Falling under the overarching umbrella of Inclusion and Awareness, the eight half-day online interactive workshops were centred around various topics to help entrepreneurs and leaders increase their knowledge, understanding and skills around inclusion, diversity, equality and sustainable business practices.

Working together to support one another with complementary skill sets and areas of expertise, AAI Employability, Tree of Knowledge, and Social Investment Scotland collaborated to deliver the sessions about impactful entrepreneurship and how to use business for good.

The sessions created a safe space for people who genuinely wanted to make changes for the better within their business with themes ranging from disability and neurodiversity in the workplace; inclusive leadership; inclusive recruitment; purpose; resilience and personal impact to ways in which attendees could improve their leadership skills.

Stephanie Anderson comments:

“This project was delivered on quite a tight time scale, but we didn’t need to do a lot of prep work for it because our partners completely understood what we were working to achieve. We were all ultimately looking to achieve the same outcomes and, by working together, we were not only successful but we were also able to amplify it to a much wider audience.”

“In terms of being more inclusive, if we were just promoting this around the Scottish Enterprise network, we wouldn’t have been able to provide this opportunity to everyone in Scotland. When AAI and Social Investment Scotland put it out to their network, we connected with completely different pools of talent and businesses. This approach gave us the opportunity to engage with different audiences that might not have worked with Scottish Enterprise in the past.”

Impact: Stephanie continues,

“Generally the businesses who attended the workshops had between £50k and £500k turnover, however, to ensure we were more inclusive, we opened these up to everyone on a first come first serve basis. There was a real mix of attendees, and we used the sessions to pilot the demand out there in Scotland, especially since the pandemic.

“We also opened them up to companies that had staff on furlough creating an opportunity for them to keep their knowledge up to speed. The response was overwhelming and the feedback that we have received so far has been amazing. We asked people to list their top three takeaways and highlight whether there were specific things they were going to change or embed in their business following the sessions.”

“I think that the more that Scottish businesses are aware of diversity and inclusion issues – which some will have never dealt with before – the better armed they will be with information and the more confident they will be about what makes a good business.

“Just learning what these mean in practice will support business owners in creating a fairer, welcoming society. That is not just government-speak – it needs to be threaded through every business. If this culture is built-in as they grow, that is going to have a huge impact. If all these young companies can shape themselves with a business model which puts fairness and equality at its core, that will provide a great springboard for growth.

“In terms of the wider impact, we are hoping to see more diverse teams with people from different backgrounds being employed within businesses. That will lead to more innovative businesses in Scotland, with faster growth potential and better economic performance. While achieving this ultimate ambition is further down the line, these are small changes that will lead to greater innovation.”

Kieran Daly, Head of Market Building at Social Investment Scotland, feels this project established a strong platform for future partnership work with Scottish Enterprise. He commented:

“Our organisation offers investment, courses and business support to charities, social enterprises and mission-led businesses.

“This collaboration with Scottish Enterprises enabled us to support mission-led businesses and the wider business community to explore the relationship between investment and investee, as well as the range of debt and equity products in the market. Central to this was exploring the multiple benefits of environment, social and governance-driven investment, and how investing ethically can increase profitability. Looking at start up and scale up investment, we explored how to make approached to investors and ensure businesses find the right investors to suit their long-term strategy.”

Nick Murray, Enterprise Engagement Lead at AAI Employability, also highlighted the benefits of the collective approach to this project, saying:

“The most powerful thing about this collaboration was the genuine buy-in from Scottish Enterprise to allow those closest to these inclusive business practices to deliver things in their own way. Projects like this not only empower the businesses who attend, but also strengthens trust and transparency within the Scottish business ecosystem.

“AAI delivered six out of the eight events in this series, covering topics including neurodiversity in the workplace, cultural competency and ethical recruitment. We made a conscious effort to target businesses outside of our ‘purpose-driven echo chamber’, and were delighted to be oversubscribed for all of our workshops, with excellent feedback from those who attended.”

Gavin Oattes, Managing Director of Tree of Knowledge added his thoughts on the value of collaboration in the project, saying:

“The way we work is changing and bringing people together to collaborate on this project successfully blended many different experiences, skills and ideas in order to truly make a difference and inspire all those taking part.

“I wish I had the opportunity to take part in this type of project when I was starting out in business.”

Social Enterprise is looking to deliver further workshop sessions over the coming months. For the latest news and updates on upcoming sessions follow them on Twitter, Linked In, Instagram or Facebook.

To find out more about the support AAI EmployAbility, Tree of Knowledge and Social Investment Scotland can offer, visit their websites below:

News Opinion

Female founders essential to economic recovery

Scottish innovation and entrepreneurship has been put to the test since the onset of the pandemic. With many sectors being severely impacted by two nation-wide lockdowns and ongoing social restrictions, we have seen many businesses forced to adapt and focus their efforts on new markets, while a number of start-ups have also emerged to leverage opportunities created within the adversity of Covid-19.

During this time we’ve seen some great examples of collaborative working to promote innovation across a range of businesses, including those which are women-led.  With support from the Women’s Business Station and its wider network, Dundee-based businesswoman Audrey Glen pivoted her focus from her wedding and events business, which was severely hit from the early onset of the first lockdown, to a new virtual Admin/PA company, Audrey Virtual Assistant, which she launched last summer.

Companies like these, being set up by inspiring and enterprising women, not only demonstrate the resilience of Scotland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem but are also an essential aspect of our future economic growth.

Women owned businesses currently contribute £8.8bn to the Scottish economy (Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES), 2021) and it’s estimated that helping more of them succeed could add a further £13bn in economic value and create over 300,000 jobs (WES, 2021). As the Scottish Government reported last year, closing the existing entrepreneurial gender gap and helping create more female-founded businesses could result in economic growth of up to 5% as well as 35,000 new jobs.

Increasing the level of female-founded businesses has also been a key focus for the UK Government. In 2019, Alison Rose reported on her Treasury-commissioned independent review of female entrepreneurship which shed a light on the barriers faced by women in starting and growing businesses and identified ways of unlocking this untapped talent. In response to her report, the UK Government announced a plan to increase the number of the nation’s female entrepreneurs by 600,000 by 2030 with a series of phased steps being taken in collaboration with industry to help achieve this ambition.

Extra support for female entrepreneurs is more vital than ever given the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on women, especially those in lower income households. Women are more likely than men to work in sectors such as hospitality, retail, leisure, tourism and travel that have been most affected by lockdown restrictions. Changing work patterns, due to home schooling and increased caring responsibilities, have also taken their toll on women who have been found twice as likely to give up paid work to care for children, elderly relatives and ill family members during the Covid crisis.

Women’s Enterprise Scotland have launched the Women’s Business Centre as a free digital resource to help women bring their business ideas to life and flourish as business owners. Since launch the site has supported hundreds of women to start up with practical support and inspiring stories.

The Resilience and Recovery report, based on data from Beauhurst’s Covid-19 Business Impact Tracker, cited a continued equity funding gap between male and female-led companies last year. It reported that just 13 per cent of total equity investment in 2020 went towards female-founded start-ups. Where investment was made, it tended to be for smaller amounts even though research shows that once female-founded businesses have received an initial investment, they are just as likely to raise additional rounds of funding compared to male-founded firms. Mint Ventures is a new business angel investment club on a mission to enable more women to become investors and support diverse teams so more female founders can access capital.

Jackie Waring, Founder & CEO Investing Women Angels & AccelerateHER comments,

“Increasing investment in female founded companies in Scotland is an imperative for the future health and growth of our economy.  At Investing Women, 90% of our investment has backed female founders leading often pioneering scientific and medical breakthroughs and ground breaking technologies. We have such incredible female talent here in Scotland; it’s time for transformational change in the level of investment we make in that talent and the depth of ‘readiness’ support we give to these founders whose innovations improve health, lives, the environment and Scotland’s international competitiveness.”

There is clearly an opportunity to reset the business landscape in Scotland beyond the pandemic and support women by promoting a can-do attitude within an entrepreneurial society. This is where the Can Do Collective has a significant role to play, by demonstrating ways in which collaborative working between Scottish female-led businesses can help to inspire others, nurture a stronger entrepreneurial spirit and ultimately accelerate economic growth.

The Can Do Collective has established itself as a driving force for post-COVID recovery plans across the nation. Working in close collaboration, the Can Do Collective is a community of 70+ enterprise support organisations whose mission is to build a world-leading entrepreneurial, innovative and creative society.  Can Do Partners such as Association of Scottish Businesswomen, Women’s Business Station, Women’s Enterprise Scotland, Investing Women and Business Women Scotland, among others, will continue to focus on how Scotland can further promote female entrepreneurship across the nation.

Bronwen Thomas, Digital Projects and Marketing Manager at Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) comments,

“By working together to enable women to start up and thrive in business we can build back better and close widening gender gap in enterprise participation to create a significant boost for the Scottish economy.”

Hazel Jane, Convener of the Can Do Collective, comments:

‘We must ensure that the impact of the pandemic serves as a catalyst for positive change, which includes increasing the level of female-founded businesses in Scotland – not simply to readdress the disproportionate impact that Covid has had upon women but also as an effective means of rebuilding the Scottish economy long into the future’

Find out more at

News Press Releases

Quarter of a million Scots entrepreneurs set up business in 2020

A quarter of a million people in Scotland were setting up or running new businesses in 2020, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, a survey has found.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Scotland 2020 (GEM) report estimates that 7.3% of the Scottish population – 247,000 adults – were actively engaged in setting up a business or already running an enterprise established in the last three-and-a-half years. A further 5.7%  – 194,000 – were entrepreneurs running more established businesses.

Around 60,000 young people in Scotland, or 13% of 18-24 year olds, were early-stage entrepreneurs, the highest rate among the home nations. Entrepreneurship among people under 30 years old in Scotland has steadily grown from being the lowest in the UK at 3.5% in the 2007/09 period.

GEM measures rates of entrepreneurship across multiple phases in the general adult population. In 2020, nearly 140,000 people from 46 economies across the globe were surveyed, with 2,019 responses from Scotland, making it the world’s most authoritative comparative study of entrepreneurial activity.

The study found that Scotland had similar rates of total early-stage entrepreneurial activity (TEA) to other nations within the UK, mainly because Scotland held steady in the face of the pandemic while early-stage entrepreneurial activity in England suffered a significant decline from 2019 rates.

The Highlands and Islands region had the highest proportion of 18-64-year-olds in early-stage entrepreneurial activity (8.7%), followed by South Western Scotland (7.4%), Eastern Scotland (6.9%) and North Eastern Scotland (6.5%). In North Eastern Scotland, there has been a significant decline in the TEA rate from 2019 (8.7%) to 2020 (6.5%), while the rest of Scotland held steady despite the pandemic.

Around 5.3% of adult women in Scotland were trying to set up a new business or running a young business in 2020 compared to 9.3% of men – a rate that has changed little over the last decade and makes the gender gap in Scotland the highest amongst the home nations.

Further, there is a significant gender difference in reasons for trying to start a business with 62% of men citing the building of “great wealth or a very high income” as a key motivation compared to only 51% of women. In contrast, 76% of female early-stage entrepreneurs in Scotland, compared to 57% of males, indicated that a key reason they were trying to start a business was “to earn a living because jobs are scarce”.

Following previous trends, the TEA rate of the white ethnic population in the Scotland in 2020 was lower than that of the non-white population, at 7.05% compared to 12.95% respectively. However, the TEA rate for the non-white ethnic group was lower than the rate in 2019 (16.8%), while it remained comparable for the white ethnic group. This suggests that amid the higher rates of entrepreneurial activity among ethnic minorities, there is greater precarity too.

In Scotland, contrary to the trend in the wider UK, both the most deprived quintile and the least deprived quintile reported similarly high TEA levels, of around 9%. The most deprived 20% were thus just as likely to start a business as the wealthiest 20% in Scotland in 2020.

Dr Samuel Mwaura, lecturer in the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and co-lead of the GEM Scotland study, said:

“Despite the pandemic, there were around 250,000 entrepreneurs that were actively trying to set up a business in 2020 in Scotland, helping keep entrepreneurial activity on a par with 2019.

“Historically, we know that new businesses play a vital role in the recovery from major crises, however in 2020 immediate and sustained efforts to mitigate the coronavirus crisis prioritised more established businesses to the neglect of startup entrepreneurs.

“Many of the 250,000 startup entrepreneurs in 2020 will thus not have accessed much needed support and our findings suggest that thousands have thus had to delay the operationalisation of their new businesses. It is likely that many of these businesses will never see the light of day.

“We also found significant regional disparities among the four regions of Scotland, each with unique strengths and vulnerabilities. This means that different regions have different needs and tailored support is required. It is encouraging to see regional support infrastructure develop, such as Aberdeen City Region, and the new South of Scotland Enterprise.”

Dr Sreevas Sahasranamam, co-lead of the GEM Scotland study, said:

“Our findings on rates of entrepreneurial activity among young people under 30 in 2020 gives us a lot to both celebrate and draw lessons from.

“The success of this group has come from substantial investments in well-integrated national programmes such as The Prince’s Trust, the Bridge to Business programme for schools and the Scottish University Scale-Up Consortium, among others.

“Many individual universities in Scotland are also making entrepreneurship a more strategic priority internally for their students and graduates while also taking a greater role in supporting the wider ecosystem, such as Strathclyde’s partnership with Glasgow City Council, Scottish Enterprise, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurial Scotland to create the Glasgow City Innovation District.

“These initiatives provide fantastic case-studies of best practice that is working for young people that can be suitably adapted to address the issues we continue to observe in entrepreneurship among women and ethnic minorities as well as the regional disparities.

“Another related trend we noted was the highest entrepreneurial activity within Scotland’s most deprived quantiles, suggesting a case of entrepreneurship being seen as an emancipation tool.

“It was very encouraging to note that despite the pandemic nearly half the early-stage entrepreneurs in Scotland saw new opportunities, which augers well for an economic recovery.”

Sean McGrath, Chief Executive Officer, Entrepreneurial Scotland, said:

“These are eye catching and hugely-reassuring figures. They support the view that individuals who have an entrepreneurial mindset are key players in the economic recovery. 

“Against all the odds and in the midst of a health crisis the like of which none of us have ever lived through before, it is deeply encouraging to learn that so many individuals are either engaged in business creation or running one.

“This is undoubtedly good news and comes at a time when people everywhere are endeavouring to drive Scotland’s economy forward and out of the difficulties caused by the pandemic.”

Blogs News

Katy Brown, Co-Founder of Skylark Works

Introducing new Partner Skylark Works ….

Hi Katy, welcome to Can Do! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?:

I’m the co-founder and MD of purpose-led consultancy Skylark Works. I’m a committee member for Philanthropy Impact, supporting the growth of philanthropy and social investment across the UK and Europe. I’m also a crisis volunteer with Shout, the UK’s crisis text service, and a volunteer management consultant with Inspiring Scotland and The Cranfield Trust.

I’m passionate about purposeful work, social impact and impact investing. And I’m always looking to use my experience to connect the commercial world with meaningful purpose and genuine impact.

About Skylark Works:

In a nutshell we help businesses do good and charities do business. We’re a purpose-led consultancy and Oxford University spin-out offering:

  • Philanthropy and social impact advice for businesses and HNWIs
  • Strategic planning, delivery support and coaching for charities and social ventures

What motivated you to become a Scotland Can Do Partner?

I think it’s time to rethink growth. Business is no longer just about profit but about how we help our people and planet too. The Covid crisis, the climate emergency and social inequality are profound and pressing problems that can only be solved if we harness the huge potential of entrepreneurs, innovation and enterprise. It’s about leading on purpose, focusing on sustainability and delivering on impact. The need to do this is unavoidable and urgent. Together, we can help make it happen.

How do you contribute to the Scotland Can Do ambition; for Scotland to be the most entrepreneurial and innovative society for all?

Our goal is to support businesses, social enterprises and charities to be more effective, resilient and sustainable – and in doing so, to make an even greater impact. We always try to bring together diverse perspectives and voices from across sectors to think about things differently and find innovative solutions. We hope that through our support, we can play a small part in helping to foster an innovative and entrepreneurial culture here in Scotland.

If you would like help to deliver real social impact, find out more about Skylark Works.

Just for fun …. What is the most true stereotype of Scottish people or Scotland?

They’re a friendly bunch! And I’m not sure you’d find macaroni pies south of the border…

Press Releases

UK Government Ministers visit Scotland’s thriving fintech community

To recognise the global impact of Scotland’s growing fintech sector, FinTech Scotland hosted a visit by Secretary of State for Trade, Liz Truss and Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack on Tuesday 20th July, at the Bayes Centre, University of Edinburgh.

Financial technology  (“fintech”) uses digital and data driven innovation to improve and enhance financial services, both for businesses and individuals and is making a significant contribution to innovation and the broader economy.

For example, the collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, FinTech Scotland and industry participants on innovative financial technology initiatives has enabled Scotland to be the home to the Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence as well as FinTech Scotland being recognised as the UK’s first accredited fintech cluster.

The meeting at the Bayes Centre provided an opportunity for UK Government ministers to meet with a number of key entrepreneurs from leading firms from the Fintech Scotland community such as Direct ID, Modulr, FreeAgent, Float, EedenBull and Trace AI

Liz Truss, International Trade Secretary, said:

“The UK is a world-leader in FinTech and that’s why we’re breaking down barriers, pushing new frontiers in our free trade agreements and opening up markets to boost this growing industry.

“From Australia to Singapore, we are using our independent trade policy to drive foreign investment into UK FinTech and increase export opportunities worldwide.

“Scotland’s FinTech sector is thriving, and I want to ensure that we fuel the future global growth opportunities for FinTech businesses across the UK.” 

Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack said:

“Scotland’s financial sector has a rich history, and with 180 fintech businesses now based here, it’s good to see this legacy growing and developing as the UK becomes a major force in the global industry.  

“It was great to meet with some of the key people behind the sector’s success, and I look forward to seeing how their ambition and innovation will enhance the profile of Scotland and the whole UK within the global fintech community.”

Stephen Ingledew, Executive Chair of FinTech Scotland, who hosted the ministerial visit said:

“This visit demonstrated how collaborative leadership by entrepreneurs, large enterprises, academia and government can make a significant impact in delivering impactful fintech innovation which will shape the future economy and people’s lives both in the UK and internationally. Our forthcoming fintech research and innovation roadmap will highlight how we will build on momentum created and foster further collaboration with the regional fintech hubs across the UK.”

Peter Mathieson, Principal of the University of Edinburgh, welcomed the Ministers to the Bayes Centre and commented:

“The University has a global reputation for ground-breaking innovation and the Bayes Centre is a great example of creating a creative and collaborative environment delivering new opportunities in data, artificial intelligence and robotics in the emerging new sectors such as fintech”

The Ministerial visit coincides with the unveiling of plans for Scotland’s FinTech Festival in September which will showcase financial innovation from across the UK highlighting progress made since the HM Treasury commission Fintech Sector Review by Ron Kalifa OBE was released in March this year.

The Fintech Festival, now in its fourth year, will be a diverse range of 50 plus events and activities taking place over four weeks with fintech leaders and entrepreneurs attending from the UK and virtually from around the world.

The Festival will include major conferences in Edinburgh and Glasgow with examples of innovation from Scotland and the UK amongst many other global fintech leaders.


Notes to Editors

About FinTech Scotland


FinTech Scotland is an independent not for profit body jointly established by the financial services sector, universities and Scottish Government/Scottish Enterprise to ensure that Scotland seizes the FinTech opportunities and achieves positive economic and social outcomes by encouraging financial innovation, collaboration and inclusion as part of the country’s broader digital economy objectives.

The organisation acts as a strategic enabler and cluster management body focused on leveraging the potential economic (i.e. productivity, innovation, business creation, employment) and social (i.e. financial inclusion, well-being and accessibility) benefits arising from becoming a leading global centre focused on Fintech innovation.

FinTech Scotland’s objectives are to develop an innovative community of FinTech firms, generate impactful collaborations between firms of all sizes and foster an inclusive cluster which is globally recognised and connected.

In January 2020, FinTech Scotland was formally recognised for the development for the Fintech cluster in Scotland and accredited with the bronze label for Cluster Management Excellence by the European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis.

FinTech Scotland was initially founded in January 2018 as a joint initiative by Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC, University of Edinburgh, Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise. The organisation is now supported by a broad range of global financial services, technology and professional services firms as well as University of Edinburgh and University of Strathclyde, the Financial Conduct Authority, Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise.

Media Contact:

Mickael Paris – Marketing Director, FinTech Scotland    

About the Bayes Centre

The Bayes Centre is a world-leading hub for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence which brings together global companies and UK researchers.  The UK Government supported the creation of the centre with £30.3 million investment as part of its £300 million commitment to the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.