NatWest has announced that it will make over £150m specifically available to female-led SMEs across the UK. The bank has also committed to a series of over 60 events to provide networking, education and information for female business leaders and entrepreneurs.
The moves are part of the bank’s ambition to become the best bank for British business and boost female entrepreneurship.
- Last year, the bank increased small business lending to businesses owned or directed by women by 7.5%.
- The bank also saw a 29% uplift in the number of female business switchers to the bank and a 30% increase in new accounts opened by female SME owners.
- Since NatWest launched its Entrepreneur Accelerator network three years ago, female entrepreneurs have made up over 40% of the 4,000 start-ups and high growth businesses that have been supported by the bank.
- In 2017 NatWest trained 171 members of staff as accredited Women in Business Specialists and the total number of Women in Business specialists within NatWest is now more than 400.
- NatWest reached over 11,000 female business leaders through its programme of events in 2017, and this year hopes to increase that number, to reach 20,000 women.
The free-to-attend events, supported by the bank’s Business Growth Enablers, will be held throughout March and can be signed up for by visiting the bank’s Boost Website. The Women in Business programme runs throughout the year.
Alison Rose, CEO, Commercial and Private Banking at NatWest, said: “According to research from everywoman, if women were to start businesses at the same rate as men, there would be 150,000 more start-ups in the UK every year. We hope that today’s announcement encourages more female entrepreneurs and equips more women to scale up their existing businesses – trading safely, securely and productively.
“Since we started to provide formal accreditation and training to build women’s networks, we’ve seen a really positive return both for us and for our customers, and we’re committed to providing further practical, proactive support.”
everywoman is a membership organisation that champions the advancement of women in business. Karen Gill MBE, co-founder, everywoman, said: “Central to our partnership with NatWest, that supports their vision to be the bank of choice for women in business, is the NatWest everywoman Accreditation programme. This gives customer-facing managers real insight into the particular challenges women encounter when setting up and growing their enterprises. We have seen the impact this has had in making NatWest far more inclusive to its wider communities.”
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