Scotland’s Leading Ladies of Business: Breaking Barriers and Building Futures

In the spotlight: Some prominent Women Entrepreneurs from Scotland who are Driving #EqualityInBusiness

Scotland, a land known for its breathtaking landscapes and rich heritage, is also home to a growing community of women entrepreneurs who are rewriting the business narrative. Despite the remarkable strides made in recent years, Scotland, like many other regions, grapples with gender disparities in entrepreneurship.

The statistics speak volumes: only one in five businesses in Scotland are led by women, and a mere 2% of investment capital over the past five years has flowed into start-ups founded by women. This gender imbalance not only deprives women of opportunities, but also hinders Scotland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem from reaching its full potential.

The Scottish Government, under the leadership of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, recognizes the urgency of addressing this disparity. An independent review has laid the foundation for a new era, one where female participation in entrepreneurship is not the exception but the rule. As Scotland moves towards fostering a more vibrant and equitable entrepreneurial economy, it’s essential to highlight the remarkable achievements of women who have defied the odds.

Here, we introduce you to some of the most inspiring women entrepreneurs in Scotland, trailblazers who are paving the way for future generations and breaking the glass ceiling, one venture at a time.

#WomenInBusiness #ScottishEntrepreneurs #EmpowerHer #EqualityForAll #EntrepreneurialSpirit

> Donne Burrows, Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer of Engine B

Donne Burrows set up Engine B aiming to combat a major problem for professional services firms everywhere – from access to quality data. The company has just launched its Integration Engine – to further improve the way professional services firms operate, by simplifying data preparation for auditors, reducing the time taken to understand client data and speeding up fundamental audit tasks like reconciliation.

She is backed by a rich experience in senior positions within management consultancies including digital programme lead at KPMG. Incidentally, during her term at one of the UK’s top accountancy firms (as an operational advisor to one of the functional leadership teams), she pushed partners to address the gender pay gap that had existed for a long time. Again, using data to demonstrate the disparity, she challenged partners to commit to closing the gap within three years of annual pay reviews and to ensure that all new hires were paid the same regardless of gender.

> Tricia Fox, Chief Executive, Cunningly Good Group & Mhor Coffee

An inspiring serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience, it was in 2002 that Tricia Fox founded her Perth-based communications agency Cunningly Good Group. Steering the business through the potentially-devastating challenges of the coronavirus crisis, the company went through a rebrand; it also bagged the coveted title of the CIPR Scotland’s Small PR Agency of the Year at the end of 2021. Organizing major events and tourism marketing prior to the pandemic, the business strengthened its entire client base, with new client wins in the booming technology, environmental and construction sectors too.

Then, during the pandemic, she spotted a gap in the market for speciality coffees and she
founded the online artisan coffee marketplace Mhor Coffee and her own brand of coffees, and
even opened a dedicated coffee house in Perth in 2020. And, in one year – the following
December, it was voted as the Best Monthly Online Coffee Subscription by The Independent.
Cunningly Good’s 20th anniversary was celebrated, while Mhor Coffee is poised to expand its
retail distribution into independent farm shops and delicatessens across Scotland this year.

> Sairah Bashir, R & D Engineer, Lightweight Manufacturing Centre

Sairah Bashir got a Master’s degree in chemistry at the University of Strathclyde, but nearing the end of that programme, began exploring career opportunities and was drawn to a PhD in engineering. At a time when this sector, was full of males, she was the only female, not just within the research group, but in the entire office! She feels that “women are still underrepresented in these roles globally and to create an industry that is truly gender equal”, and the engineering sector as a whole, must take a united approach to educate young people, no matter their gender, on the vast number of fulfilling career paths.

As a research and development engineer at the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre, a part of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, she believes that she has benefitted from her
background in chemistry.

> Elizabeth Jarvis, Managing Director, OneSearch Direct

Elizabeth Jarvis originally joined Glasgow-based OneSearch Direct back in 1995 in a data role. From there, she moved into a series of management roles like chief operating officer, and finally managing director in 2015. During that time, the company became the largest local search data company in the UK, providing property information and conveyancing products to solicitors and data organisations throughout England and Wales.

In addition to leading OneSearch Direct, she launched own property business – The Wee Flat Company – where she buys, sells and rents flats as a registered landlord. The focud here is on providing a socially-responsible business, which includes supporting women with young children in accessing affordable and well-maintained accommodation.

> Frances Turner-Traill, founder and owner of FTT Skin

Her background is rather unusual. In 2017, Frances Turner-Traill suffered a stroke out of the
blue, followed by Takosubo Cardiomyopathy (which was almost fatal), and a subsequent stroke a month later. But she recovered and forged ahead to make a bigger success of her business; besides, she also survived the pandemic and even ran a marathon.

Having started a career in aesthetics in 2008 when she opened her first clinic in Inverness, as she had been a general nurse and mental health nurse previously.

After a career break, she decided to leave her full-time public health role and open a new branch of aesthetic medicine. Starting off with a small practice from a room in her home, she is now a board member with The British Association of Cosmetic Nurses, of which she started the Scottish division. Then she joined the Nuffield Hospital in Glasgow’s new Confidence Cosmetics clinic, and also works for Destination Skin and SK:N, while simultaneously working from her own practice.

In 2014, she turned Frances Turner Traill Aesthetics into FTT Skin Clinics, moved into a second location in Hamilton, and was involved in helping clients with skin concerns such as pigmentation, acne and rosacea. The plan is to move the business into England, and expand into London and Manchester.

> Annabel Thomas, Founder, Nc’nean Distillery

Annabel Thomas is a British national but in 2013, left her job as a strategy consultant in London to pursue an ambition to change the way the world thinks about whisky. She spent four years raising funds so she could build the distillery on the Morvern peninsular. In 2017, her dream of distilling using organic barley and 100% renewable energy materialized, when the distillery kicked off its first production.

It is unique that she has since formed a female-led team at Nc’nean, which became the first whisky distillery in the UK to be verified as net zero carbon emissions for its own operations, and is powered solely by renewable energy and sources fully recycled clear glass bottles.


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