Cadenhead puts case for help

Plea for bank to tackle ‘shockingly poor’ female stats

Lynne Cadenhead

Lynne Cadenhead: ‘stark statistics’


A new Scottish National Investment Bank is an opportunity to give women a better chance of raising funds to support their business ambitions, a committee of MSPs heard.

The £2 billion bank, due to launch next year, should embrace ethical and equality policies and play a part in creating a better society, a panel of business representatives giving evidence told the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee at Holyrood.

Asked what they thought the bank’s mission should be, Lynne Cadenhead, who chairs Women’s Enterprise Scotland, told the committee that it should include inclusive growth.

She offered what she described as “stark statistics” revealing that Business Gateway offered equal support to men and women starting a business. But as female-led businesses moved through the growth pipeline that 50% figure fell to 20% “and as they move into account managed companies with Scottish Enterprise the number of female-led businesses is down to 3.6%.”

She added: “This figure is improving, but whatever way you look at it, the statistics on female-led businesses in Scotland is shockingly poor.

“A very harsh statistic is that just 1p in every pound of venture capital investment goes to female led businesses in the UK. The Scottish National Investment Bank has a significant opportunity to be able to transform funding for female led businesses.”

Ms Cadenhead said current lenders made demands that did not help women trying to build a business. “Putting down the family home as security is a step too far for women entrepreneurs,” she said.

On the bank’s own prospects, she also told the committee that hopes of it making a return in the short term was “wildly ambitious”.

Panellists were in broad support of the bank being constituted a plc, although David Alexander, chief executive and co-founder of Mydex, a community interest company, argued that it should be “asset and mission locked” to ensure it worked for the general good.

“The worst thing – the travesty – would be if the bank ended up as another privately owned bank… and started being measured by purely commercial measures.”

On the risks behind hiring highly-paid bankers, he said there were talented people around who are not driven by money.

“If you specify the talents and the skills and the attitude of the person you are looking for you will find people with the necessary skills and abilities that are not being dragged out of the financial services sector and have got to be treated like gods.

“I would counsel against eye-watering salaries and bonus schemes. Make a positive statement about running the Scottish National Investment Bank for the people of Scotland by the people of Scotland.”


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