The crowdfunding programme, entitled ‘Back Her Business’ has been developed in partnership with established provider, Crowdfunder, and forms part of the bank’s wider ambition to reduce the gender gap when it comes to entrepreneurship.
Back Her Business, which launched on Monday 18 March, will enable women to register for the programme and prepare their business idea for crowdfunding.
The initiative will be developed UK-wide through NatWest in England and Wales, Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland and Royal Bank in Scotland.
Crowdfunder will provide the infrastructure and access to its wider network of partners and entrepreneurs, with the bank acting as a connector and enabler. Though most of the funding will come from ‘the crowd’ the bank will provide a top-up in funding of £1m per annum and will be offering up to 50% of an individual’s fundraising target (capped at £5,000) for certain successful projects1. The initiative will not be equity crowdfunding, it will be donation and reward based – i.e. funders will be given a discount towards products or services in return for their donation in some instances.
More than funding
Jill Arnold, NatWest’s Sustainable Banking Lead, Enterprise, whose team developed the initiative, said: “Using the bank’s Entrepreneur Accelerator programme, our Women in Business proposition and industry experts, we will be offering bespoke training and coaching, networking opportunities and local events. We’re also excited about showcasing role models who will not only inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, but guide them and help them on their journey.”
Back Her Business is part of NatWest’s wider commitment to helping female entrepreneurs in any way it can. As well as the lack of financial structures that the bank has found to support women, it also commissioned research into the psychological challenges facing females in business and one condition in particular came to the fore – Imposter Syndrome.
Imposter syndrome is a feeling of self-doubt, where an individual will question their accomplishments and believe that they are not as competent as others perceive them to be. NatWest commissioned research, which found that of women who had considered starting a business but didn’t, two thirds (60%) said it was due to factors such as a lack of confidence, not feeling like they are the type of person who could start a business or feeling they wouldn’t deserve to succeed despite their skills.
The recent Alison Rose Review on Female Entrepreneurship, carried out alongside the UK Treasury, revealed that only 5.6% of women run their own business and further bank data also shows that women are half as likely as men to start a business (NatWest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2018). The report also showed that if women started businesses at the same rate as men, it would add £250bn to the UK economy, a figure equivalent to 4 years’ of natural GVA growth.
NatWest’s CEO of Commercial & Private Banking Alison Rose said:. “Access to, and awareness of different types of funding and capital is a major barrier for women looking to start up or scale a business. I am proud that NatWest is leading the charge with ‘Back her Business’, the UK’s first female only crowdfunding programme. For too long women have been put off from starting a business by a number of factors, we want to make this a thing of the past.”
Rob Love, CEO of Crowdfunder said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for more women across the UK to turn their ideas into reality. Crowdfunding has been proven to help women validate their ideas, build confidence and raise the funds they need to make their ideas happen: more than half of our crowdfunding community is female. So we look forward to providing the inspiration and support, alongside NatWest, needed to help more female entrepreneurs get their business ideas backed.”
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UK residents with new UK projects can apply. Eligibility (including type of project) and specific criteria apply.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,119 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 6th - 7th March 2019. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+)