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.