The new scheme by Royal Bank of Scotland, which it says forms part of the bank’s wider ambition to reduce the gender gap, will also run through the NatWest brand in England and Wales and Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland.
Although most of the finance will come from the crowdfunding, the bank will provide a top-up in funding of £1 million per year and will be offering up to 50 per cent of an individual’s fundraising target, capped at £5,000, for certain successful projects.
RBS’ recent Rose Review by the bank’s chief executive of commercial and private banking, Alison Rose, revealed that only 5.6 per cent of women run their own business.
Further bank data also shows that women are half as likely as men to start a business. Of those who had considered starting a business but did not, two-thirds said it was due to factors such as a lack of confidence or feeling they would not deserve to succeed despite their skills.
Ms Rose said that among the key findings was the fact that if women started businesses at the same rate as men, it would add £250 billion to the UK economy – a figure equivalent to four years’ of natural GVA (gross value added) growth.
She said: “Backing female entrepreneurs helps everyone. It helps women of course, but it helps our economy, the start-up and business ecosystem, and in the end the wider consumer.
“For too long women have been put off from starting a business by a number of factors, we want to make this a thing of the past.”
Jill Arnold, RBS’ sustainable banking lead, said: “Using the bank’s Entrepreneur Accelerator programme, our Women in Business proposition and industry experts, we will be offering bespoke training and coaching, networking opportunities and local events.
“We’re also excited about showcasing role models who will not only inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, but guide them and help them on their journey.”
The bank said it will also leverage its Regional Boards to ensure wherever the budding entrepreneur is based, she is given the support she needs.
By working with around 20 regional enterprise support organisations and providing additional grant funding to enable them to run their own programmes, RBS is hoping to inspire the wider ecosystem to ensure women receive bespoke local support.