NatWest has announced additional £ 1 billion funding to help women-run businesses in the UK recover from the coronavirus.
The bank says the goal is to ultimately help women entrepreneurs scale and grow, building on the £ 1bn announced last January which was the largest intervention by a UK lender specifically focused on women Company focused.
NatWest has also stated that it has committed to creating an additional 35,000 new businesses in the UK by the end of 2021, with a focus on underrepresented groups and geographic inequalities.
Due to the impact of the coronavirus, the bank saw unprecedented demand from women-run businesses, surpassing its £ 1 billion target four years ahead of plan. The availability and easy access of UK government lending systems via digital channels, coupled with the impact of viruses, has resulted in many more women entrepreneurs applying for funding.
The share of female founders lending has not only increased in absolute terms, but has also risen proportionally from 9.5% to 14% of total lending.
A key finding from the Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship (hereafter: Rose Review) was that the biggest problem holding back women entrepreneurs is the lack of funding directed at them.
On the £ 1 billion funding, Ms. Rose, CEO of NatWest Group said, “If women are even more disadvantaged professionally on the other side of this crisis, we will seek to build economic recovery while ignoring a large area of potential.
“We all, from ministers to employers, have a duty to ensure that further pain is not disproportionately felt by women and that anyone who has the ambition to start or expand a business is given targeted and innovative support.
“We are determined to play our part and I am pleased to confirm that we can now launch a second tranche of £ 1 billion to continue and expand our support for women entrepreneurs.”
Traditionally, women take on less debt than male-run businesses, and this can affect their ability to scale and grow at the same pace. The increased engagement stimulated by government programs has also enabled NatWest to ensure that women entrepreneurs have access to this full package of support.
The additional funds are available to both new and existing customers and represent new loans to the UK economy to further fill the gap between female and male entrepreneurs.
The support and encouragement of women entrepreneurs is needed more than ever because of the disproportionate impact of the crisis on women. Recent research commissioned by NatWest in collaboration with YouGov shows that:
Every tenth entrepreneur plans to start a business in 2021.
- 55% of female business leaders would not recommend starting a business in their sector in 2021.
- Entrepreneurs are 17% more likely to struggle to balance business with family life during the pandemic. and,
- Almost three quarters (71%) of female entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs found running their business stressful during the pandemic, compared with just over half of men (55%).
- Paul Scully, Minister for Small Business and Co-Chair of the Rose Review Board, said: “We want to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business. This means supporting entrepreneurs from all walks of life, regardless of gender or ethnicity.
“It’s fantastic to see a big company like NatWest doubling its support for women-run businesses to £ 2 billion and giving thousands of businesses a lifeline as we build better on coronavirus.”
Martin McTague, the FSB’s political director, said his research has shown that women-run small businesses are less likely than their male counterparts to have access to any form of external funding. A quarter of female entrepreneurs tell them that having access to finance is a key challenge for starting their own business.
Mr McTague said, “Such dedicated funds, raised to current and potential small business founders, could make a real difference.”
Hannah Essex, Co-Executive Director at BCC added: “The talent and skills of so many women looking to start and run their own business in the UK are beyond question.
“It is important that these brilliant women are supported with the investment they need to get their ideas off the ground. As the UK starts to emerge from the pandemic, this additional financial support will give a welcome boost to women entrepreneurs looking to lead the economic recovery. “