The Scottish Chamber of Commerce will partner with the Scottish Association of Business Women to deliver the Future Female Business Leaders programme.
The programme draws on chambers’ skill and experience in connecting entrepreneurs with established business mentors who will provide them with direct support.
It will offer women help as they move into leadership roles, and includes an element to help to stimulate ‘internationalisation’of Scottish business.
Speaking at the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce Women in Business lunch, the First Minister said: “Helping more women to set up and succeed in business is both an economic and a moral imperative. By encouraging and supporting women to create and grow businesses, we can create greater equality which in turn builds a stronger and fairer economy.
“The Scottish Chambers represent more than 11,000 companies across the country with a pool of over 1,000 mentors dispersed widely across Scotland. We have invested nearly £400,000 this year on projects to support female entrepreneurship, which includes the Chambers’ Future Female Business Leaders programme.
“It is a scheme which will help some of the next generation of women business leaders as they start their careers. And it will also – if my experiences are anything to go by – provide enlightenment and inspiration for the mentors.
“One of the things that I decided to do as an individual two years ago was to become a mentor to a young woman. It is incredibly valuable to share experiences and insights with people from different backgrounds and with different perspectives.”
Dr Liz Cameron OBE, Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive, said: “This is a perfect example of playing to the strengths and connectivity of both the public and private sector. It is an economic priority to ensure that we create an infrastructure which will unlock the outstanding opportunities which exist for females in the workplace enabling more of us to progress to the very top.
“It will also be a beacon for others to follow, and at the same time, increase the number of successful businesses run by women to grow and expand their businesses.
“Mentoring will be integral to our focus, but it will be in wider terms of bringing together business leaders and other organisations who want to play a role in this development. We are also excited at bringing in an international dimension, identifying potentially new connections and new orders.”