Royal Bank of Scotland has announced it will invest an additional £100 million in funding to support female Scottish entrepreneurs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Funding for female entrepreneurs will be made available over the next four years, the bank confirmed, and will help businesses across the country to scale and grow.
This latest announcement follows an earlier pledge to support female entrepreneurship. In January 2020, RBS announced a £1 billion programme in response to findings in the Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship – the “Rose Review“.
Since its launch in January 2020, the funding programme experienced enormous demand. In response, an additional £1 billion of debt funding has been made available, with £100 million of funding targeted specifically at Scottish companies.
The Rose Review highlighted a concerning lack of support for female entrepreneurs across the UK. According to the Review, the single biggest issue holding back many female entrepreneurs was access to funding.
Traditionally, women are less likely to take on debt than male-led businesses, which can have an adverse impact on their ability to scale and grow.
Commenting on the funding package, RBS Chief Executive Alison Rose said: “All of us, from ministers to employers, have a duty to ensure that further pain isn’t felt disproportionately by women and that anyone who retains an ambition to start or grow a business is helped with targeted and innovative assistance.
“We’re determined to play our part and I’m pleased to confirm that we are now able to launch a second tranche of funding to continue and extend our support to female entrepreneurs and business owners.”
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The coronavirus pandemic has further compounded challenges for female entrepreneurs both in the UK and globally, according to RBS.
As such, the need for support and encouragement is needed now more than ever.
Research carried out by Royal Bank of Scotland in partnership with YouGov shows that nearly half (55%) of female business leaders would not recommend launching a business in their sector in 2021.
Similarly, nearly three-quarters (71%) of female entrepreneurs and business owners found managing their firms stressful during the pandemic, compared to just over half (55%) of male counterparts.
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Rose commented: “As we build a purpose-led bank that champions the potential of people, families and businesses up and down the country, we are committed to supporting the UK’s recovery from the crisis.
“However, if women find themselves at even more of a professional disadvantage on the other side of this crisis, then we’ll be attempting to build an economic recovery whilst ignoring a huge area of potential.”
Small Business Minister and Co-Chair of the Rose Review Board, Paul Scully, added: “It is fantastic to see a large company like NatWest doubling its support for female-led businesses to £2bn, giving a lifeline to thousands of companies as we build back better from coronavirus.”
The Female Entrepreneurship Funding builds on initiatives that the bank already has in place to support women looking to start, scale and grow businesses.
The RBS Entrepreneurial Hubs based in Edinburgh and Glasgow have supported over 500 entrepreneurs across Scotland. Of these, 42% in Edinburgh and 49% in Glasgow have been female-led.