Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Alison Rose has pushed the button on a £1 billion fund to help more women launch their own businesses.
Rose, who last year became the first woman to lead RBS since it was founded in 1727, has set a target to help create at least 50,000 businesses by 2023.
The bank, which remains majority owned by the taxpayer, claimed the move was the largest intervention by a UK lender focused specifically on female-led businesses. The new funding builds directly on a key finding from the Rose Review of female entrepreneurship.
The review found that businesses led by women receive less funding than those headed by men at every stage of their journey.
Women launch their ventures with 53 per cent less capital on average than men, are less aware of funding options and are less likely to take on debt.
Open to both new and existing customers, the “Female Entrepreneurship Funding” represents new lending into the UK economy and is intended to go some way to closing the gap with male entrepreneurs, RBS added.
Rose, who made history as the first woman to run one of Britain’s major high street lenders, said: “As we build a purpose-led bank that champions the potential of people, families and businesses up and down the country, we are focusing on the areas where we can have the biggest positive impact across society.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and we are backing Britain’s entrepreneurs and helping them to thrive by removing barriers to success.
“The funding and targets announced today will help support anyone who is thinking about starting a business throughout the UK.
“There is much more to come. Building a business is often tough and lonely and can be harder than it needs to be. By tackling the most important issues facing our entrepreneurs, we can make a real difference to those who need it most, especially in female-led businesses.”
UK business secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “Building on the groundbreaking work of the Rose Review, RBS is offering a real boost for the country’s female entrepreneurs and for the whole British business community. Their new investment supports our ambition to make the UK the best place in the world to work and to grow a business.”
Simon Clarke, exchequer secretary to the Treasury, added: “It is shocking that only one in three entrepreneurs is a woman, and just one penny in every pound of investment goes to female-led firms. That is why the Treasury commissioned the review to explore the barriers to female entrepreneurs.”
Rose is looking to repair the bank’s relationship with small businesses, particularly in the wake of the scandal surrounding its now disbanded Global Restructuring Group.