Ulster Bank’s ‘Back Her Business’ is Northern Ireland’s first female-only crowdfunding programme developed in partnership with established provider, Crowdfunder, and forms part of the bank’s wider ambition to reduce the gender gap when it comes to entrepreneurship. The programme was revealed at an event in Titanic Belfast, where NatWest’s CEO of Commercial and Private Banking, Alison Rose, participated in a panel discussion around ways to tackle real and perceived barriers to female entrepreneurship.
Women are able to join the programme and launch their business idea for crowdfunding. The crowdfunding programme forms parts of Ulster Bank, NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland’s wider commitment to help, inspire and support a further 400,000 female-led businesses by 2025.
Crowdfunder will provide the infrastructure and access to its wider network of partners and entrepreneurs, with the bank acting as a connector and enabler. Though most of the funding will come from ‘the crowd’, the bank will provide a top-up in funding of £1m per annum and will be offering up to 50% of an individual’s fundraising target (capped at £5,000) for certain successful projects1. The initiative will not be equity crowdfunding, it will be donation and reward based – i.e. funders will be given a discount towards products or services in return for their donation in some instances.
Recently, The Rose Review unearthed the fact that only 5.6% of women run their own business and further bank data also shows that women are half as likely as men to start a business.
Alison Rose, CEO of Commercial and Private Banking, NatWest, said: “Back her Business is one of the important steps in giving women the confidence to start and grow their own enterprises and overcome their inner Imposter.”
She continued: “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.”
Ulster Bank’s regional director of Entrepreneurship, Lynsey Cunningham, welcomed the move:
“Entrepreneurial success is heavily linked to mindset, and it’s hard to be what you can’t see. Back Her Business helps to tackle this by enabling more women to gain profile and feedback on their ideas at an earlier stage and we’re proud to support it. Female entrepreneurship is part of what we do as a bank, and it’s why it’s important to us that, of the entrepreneurs we supported in our Accelerator programme during 2018, over half have been women.”