Natwest on track to exceed investment in women led businesses target: lending £1.5bn to date

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NatWest Group has announced today that it has now lent over £1.5bn to female-led businesses since 2021, and is on track to exceed its target to lend £2bn by the end of 2025.

This is a faster pace than expected, and shows the appetite of successful, women owned businesses to scale. Regionally, women in the North of England have performed strongly in securing funding, as well as those in London and the South East.

In 2023, the bank also launched a €500 million issuance for a women’s bond, the first of its kind from a European financial institution. This has led to over 14,500 loans to women led businesses being made across the UK. It has proved particularly popular with investors, being 2.5 times oversubscribed when launched and continuing to attract strong engagement.

The bank’s track record also includes having over 1000 Women in Business specialists to support female entrepreneurs, as well as over 50% female startup founders being on its 13 nationwide accelerators. NatWest also partners with a range of organisations and initiatives that seek to help female entrepreneurs scale and get the investment they need. This includes Buy Women Built, MPHERoes, The Gender Index and others which support 100,000s women.

Coutts, the private banking arm of NatWest Group, has also raised more than £112m through the UK Enterprise Fund. It provides the bank’s client base with access to investment opportunities in privately-owned scaleup and early-stage businesses. Working with the BGF (formerly British Growth Fund) over 70% of investment has been outside London and the South East. And 15% of the money has been allocated to female entrepreneurs, in comparison to similar funds which normally lend 1-2% to women.

NatWest is also a member of the newly launched Women Pivoting to Digital Taskforce, supporting more women into digital roles. At present less than 25% of employees in AI and data science fields are women, with a prediction that there will be 1 woman for every 115 tech jobs by 2025. The Taskforce aims to encourage businesses to upskill women and plan how to source female talent for digital roles. This aims to future-proof the digital economy by ensuring digital products and roles and representative.

Julie Baker, Head of Strategic Partnerships at NatWest Group, said: “We’re proud to be the leading bank in the UK for backing women in business. To announce that we’re investing £2 billion in female led businesses faster than planned shows the strength of their companies and appetite to scale.

“We’re committed to supporting female entrepreneurs and have a long track-record in doing so. This includes having over 1000 Women in Business specialists in our bank, over 50% female start up founders being on our accelerators and launching the first ever women’s bond, worth €500 million.”

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