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As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. In NatWest’s case, they aren’t just talking about how they believe in female-led businesses; they are developing schemes to actually help them.
There is a distinct gender bias in the investment and start-up space. Just 13% of senior people on UK investment teams are women and almost half of investment teams have no women at all, according to The Independent. This can understandably mean that many women are put off from starting up their own business.
This is where NatWest’s Back Her Business scheme comes in. Launched earlier this year in partnership with Crowdfunder, the scheme is designed to encourage women to seek funding and to close the gender gap in entrepreneurship.
To support three businesses who successfully crowdfunded through Back Her Business, NatWest partnered each with agency VaynerMedia London to create bespoke ads, free of charge. Before this, the three companies relied on minimal advertising and word-of-mouth as their main marketing drive. This programme and the brand’s platform gives each small business access to a level of reach in terms of awareness and customer base they would not have perhaps been able to create on their own.
The three women-founded businesses address varying social issues from representation to nutrition to mindfulness. The first is Boarders Without Borders, based in Birmingham. It was originally founded by Kiran Kaur and Amna Akhtar to build a community and challenge the representation of women of colour in adventure sports. The initiative by GirlDreamer has now extended into development programmes to empower the next generation of women.
The second is Mini Mealtimes, an app launched by Marie Farmer where you can track your child’s nutrition and receive expert advice and recipe ideas. While the third is MasterPeace founded by Zena El Farra to give adults a space to practise mindfulness through painting classes. As the ad says, they are “Creating a moment of calm in an always-on world.”
Each of the bespoke ads opens with, “This was going to be an ad for NatWest Back Her Business. But we thought we’d advertise her business instead.” Each demonstrate the brand’s commitment to supporting women in business, providing the start-ups with the space so that they don’t have to fight to be heard.
NatWest is the only major UK bank with a female CEO and has committed to creating 65,000 new female-led businesses over the next five years which represents a £250 billion opportunity for the UK economy. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. In NatWest’s case, they aren’t just talking about how they believe in female-led businesses; they are developing schemes to actually help them.
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