NatWest and Be the Business have joined forces to launch a free mentoring programme for female business owners to provide greater access to sponsors and mentors.
The programme, launched to coincide with National Mentoring Day on 27 October, is in response to findings that show female business owners are at a disadvantage due to a lack of relatable role models and mentors.
The pilot initiative will match female entrepreneurs with an experienced business leader to give access to high quality mentoring to help build their businesses.
Together they’ll collaborate over a 12-week period to help shape strategy and business plans, and work through business challenges.
Female business owners are eligible for the pilot if they already run their own business; and live or operate in the West England Combined Authority area (Bath, North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire), or Leeds City Region area (Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield).
Alison Rose, Chief Executive, NatWest Group said: “One of the most striking findings from the Rose Review was that women are less likely than men to know other entrepreneurs or to have access to sponsors, mentors, or professional supporter networks. For female entrepreneurs, and the UK economy to truly prosper, this balance must be reset.
“Today I’m delighted to launch this new initiative in partnership with Be the Business, which we hope will provide female entrepreneurs from Leeds and Bristol with the guidance and support to truly take their business to the next level, empowering the next generation of female leaders in the process.”
A recent survey cited by BLOOM Gin found that while nearly half (45%) of women had considered starting their own business, just under a fifth (18%) had gone on to do so, with 60% admitting they had been unable to progress their ambitions. The main reasons cited for this included not having the funds to get going (55%), a lack of confidence (51%) and the need to juggle existing work and children (49%).
Anthony Impey, Chief Executive of Be the Business said: “With many small businesses having just about weathered the storm of the pandemic, they now face the prospect of another period of massive uncertainty. The next few months will be absolutely critical for entrepreneurs, and an experienced mentor to provide impartial advice and an external perspective could be the difference between success and failure. This programme will help female business owners overcome the big challenges ahead and grow their businesses.”
The Rose Review
The announcement is the latest in a string of industry-sponsored initiatives that aim to address the principal issues identified from the Rose Review. In August, the Council for Investing in Female Entrepreneurs announced its aim of getting 30% of investments to female founders and co-founders by 2030, in response to a key finding from the Rose Review which reported that only 1% of venture capital (VC) funding in the UK goes to female-led businesses.
In February, NatWest launched a £1 billion fund to support female entrepreneurs in the UK, the largest intervention by a UK lender specifically for women in business. During lockdown, the bank also launched an online version of its ‘Dream Bigger’ initiative in response to lockdown, aimed at encouraging 16-18-year-old females to consider a career in entrepreneurship.
Eligible female business owners can register for the new mentoring programme on the Be the Business platform and build an online profile. There they can select a mentor whose skillset and experience most matches their needs.