Entrepreneurship is an area that clearly defines us at NatWest and we are delighted to be sponsoring this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). The report’s insight into the motivations and aspirations of the UK’s entrepreneurs is invaluable as we work to create an environment in which their businesses can thrive.
Earlier this year we announced that we were bringing the running of our UK-wide network of 12 Entrepreneur Accelerator hubs in-house. This is the UK’s largest fully-funded business accelerator network and is capable of supporting 1,000 entrepreneurs simultaneously across the hubs.
As the country’s biggest supporter of small businesses, NatWest understands that helping businesses succeed, not just through traditional lending but with full wraparound care, connectivity and know-how, is crucial for a strong economy.
At the heart of our support for entrepreneurs is our comprehensive programme of free mentoring, insight and bespoke coaching, specifically designed to meet the needs of entrepreneurs who want to grow and scale their business.
For the first time this year, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor has measured the different motivations that entrepreneurs have for starting their own business.
While making money and working for yourself will always be important, making a difference to society and “creating meaning” are as important, if not more, among a variety of demographics, particularly women, ethnic minorities and entrepreneurs under 30.
Two-thirds of women said they started a business to contribute to society, while just under 40% of men had the same motivation.
By having this insight into the motives of entrepreneurs, we have developed support programmes that are able to address the specific needs of the individual.
Through the NatWest Women in Business programme we now have 500 accredited women in business specialists who are experts in understanding the specific support needs and motivations of female business owners.
With women still much less likely than men to take the leap and start their own business, this type of specialist support is crucial for female entrepreneurs to succeed. I’m particularly proud that women make up 48% of the entrepreneurs currently in our Entrepreneur Accelerator hubs.
In addition to our Women in Business programme, we have developed specialist programmes for fintechs, scale-ups and high-growth businesses. We understand that their needs are different from early stage start ups and have designed these programmes accordingly.
All of this support is provided to entrepreneurs fully funded with no strings attached. We don’t take equity, a stake in their businesses or charge any fee and whilst we would love them to, the entrepreneurs don’t even need to bank with us. The aim is to support them to be successful and ultimately drive their growth and that of the economy.
We understand that if these businesses do well the economy benefits and the bank does well. To us, this is truly sustainable banking.
With SMEs and micro businesses making up 99% of the UK’s record number 5.7 million businesses, it is vital that we all work to create an environment where entrepreneurs can start, scale and succeed.
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor is the largest and most comprehensive study on entrepreneurship globally, collecting data on entrepreneurial activity in 54 countries, covering two-thirds of the world’s population. To download this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, please visit https://www.rbs.com/rbs/news/2018/07/global-entrepreneurship-monitor-2017-uk-report.html
Code calling led to start-up success
Equipping the next generation with the tools to succeed in a digital world was the prime motivation for Elizabeth Tweedale in setting up her firm, Cypher.
Originally from Iowa in the US and now resident in London, Elizabeth believes getting all children and young people learning how to code is an essential skill in the 21st century. Cypher holds fun but intensive coding courses for children aged 4 to 14, often in school holidays to allow youngsters to really get to grips with computer science and prepare them to play leading roles in the future world.
“The English school system is unrivalled for its quality and rigour, however often the busy schedule does not leave time to nurture the creative entrepreneurial spirit that can in fact be fostered through project-based exploration during the holidays,” said Elizabeth, who has two primary school-aged children herself. “I was really inspired to fill in the missing pieces that the schools struggle to provide.”
In the past nine months, Cypher has staged over 1,500 ‘camper days’ for budding computer scientists and is gearing up for a busy summer holiday, with sessions running at five venues in London with between 10 and 30 students per day.
Elizabeth is on the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator programme and is based at the scheme’s shared office space in Islington in London. This has brought her into contact with other early-stage entrepreneurs where she’s been able to observe the cultural differences with British start-ups.
“You can definitely see a difference in mindset between English entrepreneurs versus American ones,” she says, “A lot of English start-ups seem to talk about themselves with a sense of ‘imposter syndrome’ despite the fact they have brilliant ideas. Whereas with Americans, their ideas might be much less well thought-through, but they have so much confidence and are so outgoing that they convince themselves and others that they’re going to be a success.”
Elizabeth believes the combination of British know-how with the American ‘can-do attitude’ which is at the heart of Cypher’s approach to ensure children are future-ready.