NatWest and Meta partnership to support growth of female-led businesses

A British banking giant and an iconic Californian multinational technology company are partnering to empower female entrepreneurs with financial knowledge.

The new partnership between the UK’s largest bank, NatWest and social technology company Meta, formerly known as Facebook, will offer female business owners “financial readiness training and other support” and aren’t the only attempts made by the two firms to support women in business.

Access to training and support is open to all female entrepreneurs and forms part of Meta’s #SheMeansBusiness programme, which offers women digital skills training and opportunities to expand business connections and networks.

Launched six years ago, the #SheMeansBusiness initiative has supported over 1.5 million women globally.

NatWest also has a track record of supporting female business owners. Last year, the bank set aside £2 billion for investment in female businesses, taught 56,000 16-to 18-year-old girls entrepreneurial skills and aims for 50% of its accelerator hub spaces to go to women.

The two organisations are partnering up again to help women in business prosper via a competition to offer 50 female entrepreneurs the chance to win Meta advertising credits, 1:1 digital mentorship and support to build a creative advertising campaign, and NatWest coaching and peer-to-peer sessions.

The competition is open between 11 April to 19 May, and winners will be announced in June this year, with the judges looking for ways that the women go “above and beyond to achieve in business.”

NatWest has also worked with Getty Images to help amplify the conversation on female entrepreneurship. Together, they have launched the Female Focus collection, a virtual gallery of inspiring female business owners built in the metaverse. The aim is to dismantle stereotypes about female founders and “help create a more diverse and inclusive visual landscape” that shows entrepreneurs in an authentic light.

This is the project’s second year, and the photos exhibited show 30 competition winners from across the UK, including a martial arts business owner, a farmer, and a construction company entrepreneur. Anyone can view the gallery, and it will be accessible for six months.

Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise at NatWest Group, said: “More women than ever are starting up businesses, and we must harness this potential. The latest Rose Review progress report showed that women are starting more businesses than ever: last year, 140,000 new businesses were founded by women compared to 56,000 in 2019. Supporting women to build their companies is a key next step, and it’s great news that NatWest and Meta have partnered to offer all-female entrepreneurs tuition and networking, and a lucky fifty women business owners an even bigger boost to their companies.

“We know that the images of women in business used by the media leave much to be desired. That’s why Getty Images and NatWest’s project to smash stereotypes by exhibiting pictures of women in different industries is so refreshing. Get inspired and give the metaverse gallery a visit.”

Carrie Timms, Director of Global Business Marketing, EMEA at Meta, said: “Women small business owners have fought to keep their doors open during this pandemic. We at Meta want to stand by them, which is why we’re proud to partner with NatWest on this new #SheMeansBusiness programme.  Whether it’s help getting an ad campaign up and running, or expert advice on business finance, we hope these new offerings will help women entrepreneurs come back from the pandemic stronger than ever.”

Jacqueline Bourke, Head of Creative Insights at Getty Images, said: “We believe there is a huge opportunity to upend stereotypes around female entrepreneurship, tell stories that have not been told before and show how the power of inclusive visuals can remove barriers to entry. People’s perceptions of what is possible are often shaped by what we see. 

“Offering representative and inclusive imagery which portrays the diversity of female entrepreneurs can challenge limiting stereotypes and empower women to create the futures they want for themselves. That’s exactly what this image gallery aims to do.

“By featuring a wide range of NatWest’s customers, this gallery authentically depicts women of all ages and backgrounds working across a diverse spectrum of industries including farming, construction, blacksmithing, recycling, sustainable business, technology and wellness, while championing the way for greater financial inclusion and success.”

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