Alison Rose

The Rose Review Progress Report 2022 on female entrepreneurship sets out the full extent of progress made since the inaugural report in 2019. It outlines the extra support needed for female-led businesses to thrive, and the challenges that they have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Rose Review originally highlighted that if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men, up to £250bn of new value could be added to the UK economy.

In total, 134 institutions with an investing power of nearly £1 trillion have now signed up to the Investing
in Women Code. The Investing in Women Code is a commitment by financial services firms to improving female entrepreneurs’ access to tools, resources and finance. The Code commits lenders and investors to collect and report data about their performance backing female-led firms and the number of signatories has leapt by a half over the past year.

Rose Review initiatives have seen tens of thousands of entrepreneurs across the UK benefiting from funding, advice and mentoring schemes, while thousands of students have received enterprise training, leading to significant year-on-year growth in female-led startups.

But research conducted for the Rose Review shows that the impact of Covid-19 risks holding back progress. It suggests that despite the rapid growth in female-led start-ups, female entrepreneurs have spent twice as long on caring responsibilities during the pandemic as their male counterparts, and that their businesses have been less likely to recover.

Alison Rose, CEO NatWest Group and author of the Rose Review, commented:
“We have seen real progress since 2019. Getting more funding to female entrepreneurs and unlocking their untapped potential continues to be a priority across our industry. But women still don’t receive all the support they need and the pandemic risks holding back progress, so we must go further to achieve the goals of the Rose Review.

“Data shows that more women than ever are starting new businesses and we must harness this potential. That means more financial institutions committing to delivering change and funding. We also need more
direct support for businesses across the UK and we must propose fresh, imaginative solutions to the challenges posed by women’s caring responsibilities.”

NatWest and Meta launch package of support for female entrepreneurs
NatWest and social technology company, Meta, have launched a partnership to offer financial read-iness training and other support to female business owners. This is available to all female entrepreneurs via Meta’s #SheMeansBusiness pro-gramme, which also provides digital skills training and opportunities to expand business connections and networks.

This builds on NatWest and Meta’s strong track-records on supporting women in business with NatWest ringfencing £2 billion for investment in female businesses, teaching 56,000 16-18-year-old girls entrepreneurial skills in 2021 and aiming for 50% of its accelerator hub spaces to go to women. Meta launched #SheMeans-Business six years ago as a long-term commitment to supporting women’s economic empowerment. To date, the programme has supported more than 1.5 million women around the world in 33 markets.

To further support women in business, NatWest and Meta will also be launching a competition from April 11th to May 19th to offer 50 female entrepreneurs the chance to win Meta advertising credits, 1:1 digital mentorship and support to build a creative advertising cam-paign, as well as NatWest coaching and peer-to-peer sessions. Winners will be announced in June this year and judges will be looking for ways that the women go above and beyond to achieve in business. 

This news of support comes as NatWest and Getty Images launch a virtual gallery of pioneering female business owners built in the meta-verse. With the creation of the Female Focus collection, the project is an attempt to challenge the narrow view of women in business. It is a nationwide movement to tackle stereotypes of female founders and help create a more diverse and inclusive visual landscape that shows entrepreneurs as they really are.

This is the second year of the project and the photos exhibited are of 30 competition winners from across the UK, including a martial arts business owner, a farmer and a construction company entrepreneur. Everyone can view the gallery and it will be accessible for six months.

Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise at NatWest Group, said:
“More women than ever are starting up businesses and we must harness this potential. The latest Rose Review progress report showed that women are starting more businesses than ever.Last year, 140,000 new businesses were founded by women compared to 56,000 in 2019. Supporting women to build their companies is a key next step and it’s great news that NatWest and Meta have partnered to offer all female entrepreneurs tuition and networking, and 50 lucky women business owners an even bigger boost to their companies.

“We know that the images of women in business used by the media leaves much to be desired. That’s why Getty Images and NatWest’s project to smash stereotypes by exhibiting pictures of women in different industries is so refreshing. Get inspired and give the metaverse gallery a visit.”

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