Michelle Mone to review entrepreneurship in poor areas

MICHELLE Mone, the entrepreneur dubbed Scotland’s “Bra Queen”, is to head up a review to encourage new businesses in unemployment black spots.
Michelle Mone: Entrepreneurship review. Picture: Robert PerryMichelle Mone: Entrepreneurship review. Picture: Robert Perry
Michelle Mone: Entrepreneurship review. Picture: Robert Perry

Ms Mone, who left school at 15, founded the Ultimo business in her 20s and has been described as a “serial designer and inventor”.

The tycoon, who quit Scotland this year over the abuse she was suffering from independence supporters, revealed she had a “very exciting meeting” with Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith in Whitehall today.

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The entrepreneur is one of Scotland’s most flamboyant and controversial business figures.

It emerged last week she is expected to secure a place in the House of Lords in the next round of peerages.

Her review will look at obstacles faced by people in disadvantaged areas, including benefit claimants, women, young and disabled people and ex-offenders, and make recommendations next year.

Ms Mone said: “My philosophy is that it does not matter where you are from, what education you have, or if you are from an affluent background or not, you can make it if you work hard, set your goals and never give up.

“I’ll be travelling across the UK to talk to and listen to people and groups from all backgrounds. I want to learn about the barriers they are facing and what changes are needed.

“A truly modern and successful economy needs to be able to unleash the entrepreneurial energy or skills of everyone in society.

“It cannot tolerate a situation where people are held back from achieving dreams of working for themselves and creating jobs for others, simply because of where they are from, or because they have had a really tough time growing up, or because they are a lone parent.”

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Ms Mone revealed earlier this year that she no longer wanted to live in Scotland after enduring “vitriolic abuse” from Nationalists because she endorsed a No vote in last year’s referendum, and moved away from the place she called home for 43 years.

“There is only so much negativity a person can take and, now I’ve moved out of Scotland I feel as if a huge weight has lifted off my shoulders,” Ms Mone said.

Downing Street sources confirmed last week that Ms Mone would be on the list of new peers, but the move prompted a storm of protest from Nationalist politicians.

Stewart McDonald, the SNP MP for Glasgow South, said: “Yes, Michelle Mone is a successful entrepreneur, but to become a national legislator overnight without the fuss of an election is obscene.”

Mr Duncan Smith said entrepreneurship can be pivotal in supporting economic growth in disadvantaged areas.

“However, people living in those areas face a range of additional barriers they need to overcome in starting and growing businesses,” he said.

“I am delighted Michelle has agreed to lead this review. There’s no-one I can think of that’s better qualified to help young entrepreneurs from deprived backgrounds to turn a good idea into a flourishing business.

“We used to be known as a nation of shopkeepers.

“I want Michelle to report back to me on how we can encourage people of all backgrounds to take up this entrepreneurial spirit.”