Business management

Providing female entrepreneurs with more access to expert support

NatWest is rolling out its Expert in Residence programme to help even more women-led businesses.

Two years ago

The Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship, produced by Alison on behalf of the UK government, identified five ways in which female entrepreneurs face higher barriers to entry in business than their male counterparts. These included lower access to and awareness of capital and finance, and a lack of relatable sponsorship, mentors and role models.

In order to realise the vast, untapped potential of female entrepreneurs, the Rose Review suggested eight initiatives that would help change the business environment for the better. A key enabler for new businesses is access to local, trusted and relatable expertise – which is why NatWest launched the Expert in Residence pilot programme in October 2019. This scheme provided LEPs and Growth Hubs in the Solent and South East regions with bank specialists who delivered insights into business finance and support to local female-led businesses.

Indeed, recent research from NatWest found that providing the right support to SMEs, including via tailored support programmes, could add £140bn GVA to the UK economy.

Alison says: “Since the launch of the Rose Review in 2019, strong progress has been made in breaking down barriers facing female entrepreneurs, with considerable commitment and action across financial services and the wider business landscape.

“Yet there is more to do, and post-pandemic, support that is practical, face-to-face, and tailored to local communities, will be critical in enabling entrepreneurs to rebuild and thrive.”

Therefore, after its successful pilot scheme, the Expert in Residence programme is being rolled out across the UK to ensure as many female entrepreneurs as possible can gain access to the support they need. The scheme is being delivered in conjunction with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), LEPs in England, and their equivalent business support organisations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Working with one of our experts will give entrepreneurs the opportunity to work on their business – not just in their business – to develop key skills and knowledge so they can sustain and grow for years to come

Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise, Climate Engagement and Partnerships, NatWest

There will be 28 Expert in Residence roles, based in NatWest branches and made available to business support organisations and their wider communities. They will host events, provide insights and advice on business finance, and support their LEP or equivalent business support organisation’s access to additional expertise to help female-led businesses achieve their potential. 

Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise, Climate Engagement and Partnerships at NatWest, says: “Our experts will continue to focus on key issues facing female entrepreneurs, such as access to finance and expertise and developing soft skills, as well as connecting them to networks of women in business in their area.

“Working with one of our experts will give entrepreneurs the opportunity to work on their business – not just in their business – to develop key skills and knowledge so they can sustain and grow for years to come.”

The Expert in Residence Programme is an impartial resource provided at no cost to the participating entrepreneur, or their LEP, Growth Hub, or equivalent business support organisation. Businesses are encouraged to reach out to their local Expert in Residence via these organisations to take advantage of what they can offer. NatWest welcomes any questions, as well as feedback, from those already taking part in the programme at enterprise@natwest.com.

Small Business Minister Paul Scully says: “Dynamic entrepreneurs need dedicated support that matches their energy and expertise, and the Expert in Residence programme provides just that, tailored to women business owners.

“This government is backing entrepreneurship across the UK through programmes including Expert in Residence, Help to Grow, Peer Networks and the Start Up Loan scheme to create jobs, boost growth and help us build back better.”

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