NatWest launches female-focused crowdfunding programme

Consumer bank NatWest is backing female entrepreneurs through a crowdfunding programme

NatWest has launched a crowdfunding programme aimed specifically at supporting businesses led by women.

The programme, dubbed Back Her Business, will allow women to prepare their ideas for new businesses and get them ready for crowdfunding.

Jill Arnold, NatWest’s sustainable banking lead for enterprise, said the “wraparound support” provided by the programme was the area that had received the most positive feedback.

“Using the bank’s entrepreneur accelerator programme, our women in business proposition and industry experts, we will offer bespoke training and coaching, networking opportunities and local events,” she said.

“We’re also excited about showcasing role models who will not only inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, but guide them and help them on their journey.”

The technology industry has a distinct investment gap between male and female entrepreneurs, with a vast majority of funding going to businesses with male founders.

In the financial technology (fintech) sector specifically, figures show that in 2018 only 3% of venture capital funding went to firms founded by women.

But there has been a push to create more technology jobs across the UK to continue its reputation as a technology hub, and the tech industry is trying to increase the number of minorities founding technology businesses.

There have also been efforts to make the technology industry a more inclusive place for female founders, with some firms launching accelerators and co-working spaces specifically for women.

After launching the Rose Review alongside the government, NatWest’s CEO of commercial and private banking, Alison Rose, found an additional £250bn would be injected into the economy if women started businesses at the same rate as men.

“Backing female entrepreneurs helps everyone – women, our economy, the startup and business ecosystem, and the consumer. For too long, women have been put off from starting a business by a number of factors – we want to make this a thing of the past”
Alison Rose, NatWest

The review also found that only 5.6% women ran their own businesses and that women were half as likely to start a business as men due to a lack of confidence, mentoring, finance and role models.

“Backing female entrepreneurs helps everyone,” said Rose. “It helps women, of course, but it helps our economy, the startup and business ecosystem, and, in the end, the wider consumer. For too long, women have been put off from starting a business by a number of factors – we want to make this a thing of the past.”

Back Her Business will be available across the UK, supported by NatWest in England and Wales, Royal Bank in Scotland, and Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland, in partnership with crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder.

Women who are accepted on the programme will be able to connect with relevant role models from partner firm Crowdfunder’s network.

Since the crowdfunding will not be equity based, those who offer funds will be given rewards and discounts rather than a stake in the business.

For some projects, the bank will offer up to 50% of an individual’s fundraising target. It will also provide up to £1m top-up cash for the programme each year.

The project is part of NatWest’s goal of supporting 400,000 businesses led by women by 2025. The bank will use regional boards and around 20 regional enterprise support organisations to ensure the programme can support women across the UK.

Read more about women in tech

  • Booking.com has found that a majority of women in the technology industry would recommend a career in the sector to young women in schools, as well as to female undergrads.
  • In a survey, just over one-third of women in the technology sector said the lack of gender equality in the industry made them uncomfortable at the start of their career.

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