Free mentoring programme launched for female entrepreneurs

NatWest and Be the Business have launched a free mentoring programme to help female entrepreneurs in Leeds City Region access sponsors and mentors, in response to findings that show female business owners are at a disadvantage due to a lack of relatable role models and mentors.

To coincide with National Mentoring Day on 27 October, NatWest and Be the Business have today launched a free mentoring programme for female entrepreneurs to provide greater access to sponsors and mentors, in response to findings that show female business owners are at a disadvantage due to a lack of relatable role models and mentors. This pilot programme seeks to address this challenge and help female business owners access high quality mentoring to help build their businesses.

The programme will initially launch to all eligible women-led businesses in the Leeds City Region, with NatWest and Be the Business aiming to push the initiative UK wide in 2021.

The programme will match participants with an experienced business leader, and together they’ll collaborate over a 12-week period to help shape strategy and business plans, and work through business challenges together.

Women business owners are eligible if they already run their own business; and live or run that business in the Leeds City Region (Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield). Eligible entrepreneurs simply register on the Be the Business platform and build an online profile. They are then able to select an appropriate mentor whose skillset and experience most matches their needs.

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.”

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.”

LEP Board member, Mandy Ridyard, Financial Director of Produmax said:

“Leeds City Region is an exciting place for entrepreneurs to start and scale their business. If women start and scale businesses at the same rate as men, it would add £250bn to the UK economy. This is a fantastic opportunity for female business owners in our region to gain access to free, hands-on support to help grow their businesses, grow a future-ready team and in turn contribute to an inclusive economic recovery.”

Today’s 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 £1billion fund to support female entrepreneurs in the UK, the largest intervention by a UK lender specifically for women in business. During the 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.

Interested entrepreneurs can apply for the programme by visiting bethebusiness.com/rose-review-mentoring/