W-POWER online network supports rural businesswomen through COVID crisis

W-Power started in 2018 to overcome the challenges of remoteness and rurality faced by women-led businesses in sparsely populated areas, but COVID-19 demanded to rethink the project approach to face new challenges.

W-Power Argyll

Many of the 50-plus member businesses have been adversely affected by COVID-19 and are either on hold or working creatively to find new ways of trading, particularly online.

The W-Power network is helping them stay connected, share information and ideas about how to get through the challenges, as well as providing moral support to each another.

There are three live online catch-up sessions every week and a programme of webinars and interactive sessions with experts to help develop key skills. Tailored online training sessions, meanwhile, are helping to meet demand for new skills development, particularly around social media and taking business online.

Cathy Higginson, W-Power project manager with Highlands and Islands Entreprise (Scotland), said: “The online nature of the W-Power network is proving extremely valuable in supporting members across Argyll -  The ethos of mutual support and collaboration is a particular source of strength and moral support to businesswomen as the region faces unprecedented challenges".

W-Power network member, Rachel MacNeill of Islay Whisky Academy, has had to halt her bespoke face-to-face whisky experiences on Islay. She has branched out instead into a new online whisky course (WHISKY AFFINITY ©) delivered via e-books and webinars, as well as creating bespoke video tours to maintain engagement with customers during travel restrictions. She said:  “The W-Power network has been a lifeline, before and since the COVID lockdown. It has helped me develop my approach to social media and online marketing. I do it all from home and it works around me.”