Marking International Women’s Day, Natwest has made over £150 million available to female-led SMEs across the UK.
The bank has also committed to a series of over 60 events to provide networking, education and information for female business leaders and entrepreneurs.
The moves are part of the bank’s ambition to become the best bank for British business and boost female entrepreneurship.
Last year, the bank increased small business lending to businesses owned or directed by women by 7.5%. The bank also saw a 29% uplift in the number of female business switchers to the bank and a 30% increase in new accounts opened by female SME owners.
Since NatWest launched its Entrepreneur Accelerator network three years ago, female entrepreneurs have made up over 40% of the 4,000 start ups and high growth businesses that have been supported by the bank.
Entrepreneurs who join the programme – the UK’s largest free business accelerator – benefit from a comprehensive programme of free mentoring, insight and bespoke coaching as well as full wraparound care, connectivity and know how.
Alison Rose, CEO, Commercial and Private Banking at NatWest, said: “According to research from everywoman, if women were to start businesses at the same rate as men, there would be 150,000 more start-ups in the UK every year.
“We hope that today’s announcement encourages more female entrepreneurs and equips more women to scale up their existing businesses – trading safely, securely and productively.
“Since we started to provide formal accreditation and training to build women’s networks, we’ve seen a really positive return both for us and for our customers, and we’re committed to providing further practical, proactive support.”
Karen Gill MBE, co-founder everywoman, added: “Central to our partnership with NatWest, that supports their vision to be the bank of choice for women in business, is the NatWest everywoman Accreditation programme.
“This gives customer facing managers real insight into the particular challenges women encounter when setting up and growing their enterprises. We have seen the impact this has had in making NatWest far more inclusive to its wider communities”.