The initiative is launched in conjunction with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
The 28 Expert in Residence roles will be based in NatWest branches, in the LEP Growth Hubs and in the wider community. The role will aim to provide expert advice and support the LEP with additional insights to help female-led businesses achieve their potential. These roles will also support with lending and banking services in partnership with other specialists from the bank.
Coast to Capital LEP, a partnership between local authorities and businesses near to Gatwick airport, was selected to pilot the programme. Over six months, NatWest’s expert worked closely with female entrepreneurs across the Coast to Capital region in Greater Brighton, West Sussex and East Surrey, to help them develop and grow their business. The pilot helped to support an uptick in funding applications from female entrepreneurs – with almost 1 in 4 (23%) applications for the LEP’s Growth Grant in 2020 received from women, compared to 14% in the previous year.
Expert in Residence is the latest action taken by the bank following the Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship, which was launched in 2019 and co-authored by NatWest’s CEO Alison Rose. The review demonstrated that up to £250 billion of new value (equivalent to 1 SME million businesses) could be added to the UK economy, if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as UK men.
Alison Rose, CEO, NatWest Group said:“Since the launch of the Rose Review in 2019, strong progress has been made in breaking down barriers facing female entrepreneurs, with considerable commitment and action across financial services and the wider business landscape. Yet there is more to do and, post-pandemic, support which is practical, face-to-face, and tailored to local communities, will be critical in enabling entrepreneurs to rebuild and thrive.
“We are delighted to be working with BEIS and the LEP Network to roll out NatWest’s Expert in Residence programme across the UK, and I encourage businesses to reach out to their local Expert in Residence via their LEP or Growth Hub to take advantage of what they can offer – alongside the wider package of support available.”
Small Business Minister Paul Scully said: “Dynamic entrepreneurs need dedicated support that matches their energy and expertise, and the Expert in Residence programme provides just that, tailored to women business owners. This government is backing entrepreneurship across the UK through programmes including Expert in Residence, the Help to Grow schemes, the Peer Networks programme and Start Up Loans to create jobs, boost growth and help us build back better.”
Malcolm Brabon, SME Manager at Coast to Capital said: “The economies of Greater Brighton, West Sussex and East Surrey have much to offer the national recovery as we emerge from the Covid-19 crisis, and I’m thrilled our pilot with NatWest has helped to make the case for the UK-wide rollout at this particularly crucial time. We will be continuing to work hand-in-hand with our NatWest Expert in Residence to champion local enterprise and remove barriers for female entrepreneurs – in turn attracting investment and generating jobs for our local communities.”
NatWest’s Expert in Residence programme is provided at no cost to the LEP, Growth Hubs or to any participating entrepreneur. Further information can be found by contacting your LEP or Growth Hub.