The initiative, which follows a two-year pilot in southern England, has been set up in conjunction with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The 28 experts, who can host events and provide insight and guidance on business finance, will be supporting their LEPs to access additional expertise so female-led companies can achieve their potential. The roles will also contribute with lending and banking services in partnership with specialists from the bank.
Expert in Residence is NatWest’s latest move following the Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship carried out in 2019 and co-authored by NatWest’s CEO Alison Rose.
It showed that up to £250 billion of new value ‑ equal to one million small and mid-size firms (SMEs) ‑ could be added to the UK economy, if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as UK men.
The review proposed eight initiatives that would help change the UK’s female business environment for the better, and found one of the key requirements was access to local, trusted and relatable expertise.
Expert in Residence aims to offer that as well as providing improved access to finance helping female entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.
The bank also has over 800 Women in Business specialists amongst its frontline teams offering bespoke mentoring, networking and professional business advice to women-led and owned SMEs.
While progress has been made breaking down barriers facing female entrepreneurs, “there is more to do,” says Rose. “Post-pandemic support, which is practical, face-to-face, and tailored to local communities, will be critical in enabling entrepreneurs to rebuild and thrive.
“I encourage businesses to reach out to their local Expert in Residence via their LEP or Growth hub in order to take advantage of what they can offer ‑ alongside the wider package of support available.”
Mark Livesey, LEP Network chief executive, added: “We are committed to realising the untapped potential of female entrepreneurs across every LEP area in the country.
“One of the keys to the success of the programme is the role of LEP Growth Hubs in understanding the barriers that prevent women-led businesses from applying for grant funding and reaching out for support. LEPs are uniquely placed to help overcome this and will prove a key driver of its future success.”
The Expert in Residence programme is provided free with no cost to LEPs, growth hubs or participating entrepreneurs. For more details contact your LEP or local Growth Hub or visit www.natwestgroup.com