In this interview, we meet with Leah Hutcheon, Founder & CEO of Appointedd, to find out the challenges female entrepreneurs face, what can be done to close the gender gap, what support is available, and three qualities that every female founder should have.



Despite the fact that in recent years we’ve seen a growing number of women in leadership positions, statistics show that inequality still prevails. What are your thoughts?

“It’s so sad that we still have such a stark gap to the statistics in female entrepreneurship in Scotland, in the UK, and in the world. I think it’s easy to look at the problem and see all of the good work that has been done – because I do really believe that there has been a lot done and I think there’s a real appetite to support women – but when you look at the statistics they just don’t lie.

Here in Scotland, 20% of businesses are led by women, and even more shockingly, only 2% of the investment into businesses goes into female founded businesses. And that just blows my mind.

I was lucky enough to speak at the Scottish Parliament a number of years ago about the impact that could be driven by supporting women led businesses at the same rate as we were supporting male led businesses, and actually, at the time the research, if we funded women at the same rate as we fund men, this would absolutely negate the negative impact to the economy that Brexit had caused.

Making those investments would be of benefit to everyone. It wouldn’t benefit only women, it would benefit society. So it’s just so sad that we haven’t been able to meaningfully make good progress.”

What can be done to close the gender gap?

“There’s a lot that can be done and I’m so encouraged to see that there’s definitely an appetite. The recent Pathways report, co-authored by Anna Stewart and Mark Logan, is a really meaningful step forward, uncovering some of the changes that can be made to remove those barriers.

Women are quite often the lead caregiver in a family and changing the way we deliver support to businesses to be more inclusive to women will unlock more inclusivity to everybody who comes up against those challenges. So I think removing the barriers to entry is very important. 

Being open to funding more is also key. Unless we’re putting money into these businesses, they can’t survive. There are some great organisations looking at funding women, such as Investing Women, Mint Ventures, and other organisations that are really putting that front and centre in their mission. And that is wonderful to see. But I think we can’t be doing enough here because the results are so stark.”

Have there been particular organisations or women in your network who helped along the way?

“There have been so many organisations and people we’ve benefitted from. I think Scotland is an amazing place to start a business and I think there’s a lot of support out there. 

In the early days, we were one of the first ever winners of the Scottish Edge Award and I think without that there is no way that Appointed would be a company. The support of Entrepreneurial Spark was so impactful. 

Entrepreneurial Scotland has been amazing. Our investors. Equity Gap has been so supportive and has really given us the funds to develop a big, brave business here in Scotland. Women’s Enterprise Scotland is very focused on female entrepreneurs. Girl Geek Scotland. There are so many organisations, probably too many to thank.”

What are three important qualities you need to succeed as a female founder?

“Definitely Tenacity. I think any founder needs that. Also important is the ability to come up against challenges and find creative ways around them, trying to find the way to beat the odds.

You also need a great team around you who will keep on pushing that boulder as you’re pushing. A team who will get behind the mission, get creative and bring that tenacity needed. 

And finally I think you need your family and your friends and the people in your immediate environment to also facilitate that. I can’t overstate the importance of the support that my husband has given me. We had our daughter five years ago at a point in the business that was really pivotal. If it hadn’t been for him being so hands on and really supporting me back then and continuing to today, I think it would be really tough for me.

That’s probably the most impactful thing for a female entrepreneur: the support that you get in the home and around your family because it really makes a big difference.”

Thank you, Leah.

Published on 7 March 2023