Removing barriers to enterprise

As the largest supporter of UK business, we already offer a wide range of support to those who want to start a new business. But we also know that for many, it remains harder than it should be. We are committed to helping create an additional 50,000 new businesses across the UK by 2023, through inspiring and supporting over 500,000 people to consider enterprise as a career option. The focus will be on underrepresented populations, with women making up at least 60% of those we support and more than 20% being Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic-led businesses. We will also make sure that more than 75% of people are based outside London and the South East, and that 10% of those inspired and supported will be social purpose-led. By helping to tackle the barriers to starting a business, there will be more opportunities to help companies grow.

Advancing female entrepreneurship

In March 2019, the Rose Review into Female Entrepreneurship was launched by NatWest Group CEO Alison Rose. The Review made a series of recommendations to help remove barriers facing women who want to start a business. At the time of the launch we committed to helping create an additional 65,000 new female-led businesses by 2025.

To help more women get to the business starting line, in March we launched Back Her Business, the first female-only crowdfunding programme that supports would-be entrepreneurs across the UK. So far 4,631 women have been supported and inspired to consider enterprise as a career option. 510 new female-led businesses have been started, 454 female-owned projects have successfully crowdfunded, and we have gifted £573,333 towards these projects.

In July, NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland were founding signatories of the Investing in Women Code which has since been signed by a total of 22 major banks and investment firms.

In September, the bank’s Experts in Residence programme was rolled out in partnership with 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP). As part of this programme, each of the LEPs will benefit from a local NatWest expert spending up to 10 hours per week in each LEP during which time they will be sharing advice and hosting events with local enterprises with a focus on supporting female business leaders.

The bank’s Women in Business programme has been running for nearly 15 years. We currently have over 600 independently accredited Women in Business specialists who provide mentoring and financial guidance, as well as support to female entrepreneurs. In 2019, more than 300 business support events were held. Through October 2019, £136m in new lending was enabled through the Women in Business programme which was an 8% increase on the previous year.

Supporting entrepreneurship

At the heart of our support for entrepreneurs is our Entrepreneur Accelerator, a comprehensive programme of free mentoring, insight and bespoke coaching, specifically designed to meet the needs of entrepreneurs who want to grow and scale their business. We provide entrepreneurs with full wrap around care, connectivity and know-how that aims to help them make the most of their potential, and deal with any challenge they could face in the challenging initial phases of growth.

In November 2019 the programme was formally endorsed by the Scale Up Institute, a not for profit organisation which aims to make the UK the best place in the world for SMEs to scale up. This is a ringing endorsement that reflects the UK entrepreneurship community’s belief in our programme.

This year we launched our NextLevel proposition for the top 100 businesses on the core Accelerator. This programme provides them with an intensive level of 1-2-1 coaching, peer to peer learning, access to a broader network, private ecosystem events and an enhanced mentoring network. These businesses have an average turnover of £561,178, an average team size of 11 (with the largest business having 43 employees) and have benefitted from more than 900 introductions.

Supporting scale-ups is at the heart of our hub-based Accelerator programme, and we launched a digital-led Pre-Accelerator for early stage start-ups and established SMEs wanting to grow during the last quarter of 2018. In addition to supporting entrepreneurs not yet ready for the core Accelerator, the Pre-Accelerator has enabled us to support thousands of entrepreneurs in locations where we don’t have hubs – through its multiple modules focused on growth mindset, how to craft the perfect pitch, how to write a business plan, customer discovery and validation.

We have had significant impact across all of our Accelerator programmes in 2019:

  • 12,127 – total entrepreneurs through our core Accelerator programme, Pre-Accelerator and Entrepreneur Taster workshops
  • 1,000 – jobs created by businesses participating in Natwest's Entrepreneur Accelerator programme (*)
  • 43% - female entrepreneurs supported across all of our Accelerator programmes
  • £123m – total turnover of the businesses supported through our core Accelerator proposition
  • £70.2m – investment raised by the businesses participating in the core Accelerator (investments include grants, investment and debt raised)
  • 79 NPS – Blended Net Promoter Score across all Accelerator events

(*) Limited assurance provided by Ernst & Young LLP.

For more information about our new strategy and purpose please see the Strategic Report (PDF 6MB) and supporting announcements.

Related content

Download historic and current Sustainability reports and other useful documents.