Banks get behind scheme to get more women into business

Exchequer Secretary Robert Jenrick

Plans to increase the number of British female entrepreneurs by half have taken a leap forward today, with major banks and venture capital firms signalling their support.

Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, Santander, TSB, Metro Bank, the Co-operative Bank, Nationwide and Bank of Ireland UK have today all signed up to the Investing in Women Code, alongside venture capital firms Frontline, Episode 1, and Angel networks UK Business Angel Association, Angel Academe, and British Business Bank.

The Investing in Women Code is a commitment to support female entrepreneurship in the UK by improving women’s access to the advice, resources and finance needed to build a business.

It comes after an independent review – commissioned by the Treasury and headed up by Alison Rose, Deputy CEO of NatWest – identified barriers faced by female entrepreneurs and what could be done to overcome them. The Rose Review found that only one in three entrepreneurs are women, and that businesses run by women are on average half the size of firms led by men.

Speaking at the launch of the Investing in Women Code at a reception in Downing Street, the Exchequer Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Breaking down gender barriers could add billions to the UK economy. I’m pleased to see so many of our major banks and venture capital firms support the code, and I call on others to follow suit.

“It’s shocking that only one in three entrepreneurs are women, and I hope that today’s commitment signals a turning point in attitudes towards investing in female-led businesses.”

Deputy CEO of NatWest Holdings and CEO, Commercial & Private Banking, Alison Rose, said: “When we began this process, everyone involved was in agreement that raising awareness of the Rose Review’s findings is only one small part of what is needed; what we need is action.

“The reaction from industry and the commitment that so many leading institutions have already shown towards the Code has been fantastic and encouraging, and this is just the beginning. I’m proud that NatWest has been a leading driver behind the development of the Code, and I look forward to working with others who support it, it is going to make a real difference.”

Ian Rand, CEO of Barclays Business Banking said: “Boosting female entrepreneurship is vital to the future of the country’s economic growth, and Barclays is committed to ensuring we offer all the support we can to those starting and scaling their businesses.

“We’re delighted to be a founding signatory of the Investing in Women Code and look forward to our continued partnership as we work together to address some of the challenges facing female entrepreneurs.”

Susan Davies, MD at Santander Business, said: “The Code represents a determination among the whole sector to tackle the barriers that are still faced daily by female entrepreneurs.

“What is important for the UK economy is that a great business idea has the chance to succeed. We should always be asking ourselves if we are doing enough to help female entrepreneurs take their idea from the drawing board to the consumer.

“The Code will enable financial institutions to come together to build upon our individual initiatives and ensure that the tools and the resources needed to succeed are easily available.”