NICOLA Sturgeon wants women to lead the way to a thriving entrepreneurial country.

The SNP leader addressed an audience of business women in Glasgow and promised help with costs, skills and investment for new business to grow.

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She said that removing barriers to work and enterprise would be a focus of the SNP enterprise plans if she is re-elected on Thursday.

Ms Sturgeon said that encouraging more women to run businesses could boost the economy by billions of pounds.

She said: “I want Scotland to be an entrepreneurial nation, a can do nation and I want to see Scotland’s women at the forefront of that.

“We’ll support start up programmes and develop a new programme to help businesses scale up, and we will continue to work with Women’s Enterprise Scotland to support female entrepreneurs.

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"We’ll do that because it is right, because it is fair, but also because if we increase the number of women-led businesses, to match the number led by men we could see a £7.6bn boost to the economy.”

she sat out the policies she said would benefit women in work and business to take advantage of opportunities from business rates to childcare.

She added: “We’ll double the availability of free childcare to 30 hours per week. And we will look at ways to make childcare more flexible, whether through childminders or nursery settings, piloting new types of childcare and providing free lunches for all those in full time childcare.”

Ms Sturgeon said her aim was to have more people paid the Living Wage of £8.25 an hour and a more representative workforce with more roles for women.

To do this she said “government and business need to work with a shared purpose”.

She spoke on the day the SNP said its party membership had increased to hit 116,000 with days to go till the election.

Meanwhile some UJK politicians joined the Scottish leaders on the campaign trail across the country as opinion polls show the SNP still on course for a majority.

Willie Rennie was joined by UK LibDem leader Tim Farron who said his party would grow at the election.

Having seen their numbers reduced to just five in 2011 Mr Farron said the LibDem campaign would bring voters back.

He said: “Education, mental health, the environment and civil liberties. These are Liberal Democrat values and delivering on these priorities will help Scotland be the best again.

“This is a campaign that a liberal giant like Charles Kennedy would have been proud of.

“Ten years ago, Willie Rennie fought a winning campaign in Dunfermline that was upbeat, energetic, optimistic and packed full of ambition. That is exactly the sort of campaign Willie has run again this time round and the Scottish Liberal Democrats will grow at this election.”