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Business management

New mentoring scheme for female entrepreneurs

The Be The Business Rose Review Female Entrepreneurs Mentoring Programme, in association with NatWest, will provide free, hands-on support to female business owners to help prepare them for the challenges to come.

In 2019, NatWest chief executive Alison Rose’s review of female entrepreneurship revealed that if women were to start and scale businesses at the same rate as men, it would add £250bn to the UK economy. But, as the Rose Review identified, a key barrier to female entrepreneurs starting or scaling a business is a lack of relatable role models and access to networks, sponsorship and mentorship opportunities through which they can gain relevant advice and insight.

To help address this, NatWest has teamed up with Be The Business to launch the Be The Business Rose Review Female Entrepreneurs Mentoring Programme, a free mentoring service for female entrepreneurs, in the Leeds City Region and the West England Combined Authority Area.

Be The Business is a government-supported independent charity created to close the UK’s productivity gap – and a crucial part of its work is helping SME owners maximise the potential of their businesses. “Many female-owned businesses have huge potential, but for a number of reasons, they don’t tend to scale up,” says Louise Sunderland, director of programmes at Be The Business. “If we can help more female-owned businesses be the most efficient they can be, or help them grow and expand, the benefits to them, local communities and the wider economy will be huge.”

Julie Baker, head of enterprise and community finance at NatWest, observes that female business owners, among other groups, have been “disproportionately affected” by the coronavirus pandemic.

“So we must keep our focus on how we can support these groups and help them survive and thrive,” she says. “Our regional round tables with customers held throughout August, as well as our existing research, highlighted that creating a strong network will be an essential part of recovery for businesses. This programme seeks to address that.”

If we can help more female-owned businesses grow and expand, the benefits to them, local communities and the wider economy will be huge.

Louise Sunderland
Director of programmes, Be The Business
How will the programme work?

“The programme will give business owners the opportunity to gain insight and support from business leaders with years of senior-level experience in a number of fields, who will be on hand to discuss and work through business challenges,” adds Baker. “The mentoring experience will be tailored to the individual – whether that is help developing leadership and management skills, assisting with strategy and business planning or boosting confidence and motivation for change.”

To take part in the programme, you need to:

  • already run your own business
  • identify as a woman
  • live or run your business in the Leeds City Region or the West England Combined Authority Area

Once your application has been accepted, you then select a mentor based on the skills and experiences which best suit their needs. To get the most out of the programme, applicants are encouraged to catch up with their mentors weekly (through calls or online meetings) during the 12-week scheme.

For SME owners who don’t have access to a team of advisers or an active board of directors to advise on next steps for the business, it is invaluable to have an experienced, independent mentor to give an impartial opinion, test ideas with or provide advice. “Equally, some mentees want a mentor with a very specific skill set to help them in a particular area – for example, developing a new marketing strategy, or developing a new product or service,” says Sunderland. “In these cases, the mentor and mentee will spend the 12-week period working on the specific topic or business challenge.

“As well as NatWest, we work with companies like Amazon, BAE Systems, Facebook, GSK, KPMG, Moneypenny, and Siemens, to identify some of their most talented and experienced executives to join the programme as mentors,” adds Sunderland. “These are seriously talented people who want to give something back and help a small business on to the next stage of growth.”

If gaining insight and a fresh perspective on business challenges from a mentor sounds like it could help you, register for our webinar on 27 October to find out more about the Be The Business Rose Review Female Entrepreneurs Mentoring Programme.

This material is published by NatWest Group plc (“NatWest Group”), for information purposes only and should not be regarded as providing any specific advice. Recipients should make their own independent evaluation of this information and no action should be taken, solely relying on it. This material should not be reproduced or disclosed without our consent. It is not intended for distribution in any jurisdiction in which this would be prohibited. Whilst this information is believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified by NatWest Group and NatWest Group makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) of any kind, as regards the accuracy or completeness of this information, nor does it accept any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage arising in any way from any use made of or reliance placed on, this information. Unless otherwise stated, any views, forecasts, or estimates are solely those of the NatWest Group Economics Department, as of this date and are subject to change without notice.

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