The UK-wide guidance programme pairs budding female entrepreneurs with established business leaders across all sectors, company sizes and locations.
The bank is calling on all businesswomen who feel they would benefit from mentoring – as well as both male and female business owners who think they can add value by becoming a mentor – to sign up before the February 5 deadline.
Following a successful smaller scale project last year, this time Santander expects to pair 90 mentors with 90 female entrepreneurs and SME owners.
Recent figures suggest that the proportion of investment in female-founded businesses declined to just nine percent in 2019 – a drop from 15 per cent four years earlier. Despite this, approximately 25 percent of high growth companies in the UK have a female founder.
The programme will cover a wide range of challenges faced by SMEs and entrepreneurs – from finding the right work/life balance, to entering new growth phases and even exporting products or services internationally. As part of the initiative Santander UK will provide each of the partnerships with tailored business support, through peer-to-peer sessions in response to the participants requests.
Head of Breakthrough at Santander Louise Robinson said: “There has been some headway on breaking the barriers for women in business, but there is still a long way to go before we see gender parity. It’s important that these budding female entrepreneurs have access to regular guidance from business professionals who have tried and tested methods of running an enterprise.”
Liz Dimmock, chief executive of sport and business development social enterprise Women Ahead which is partnering in the initiative, added: “As an entrepreneur myself, I understand just how exciting, yet also challenging it can be. I’ve personally benefitted from mentoring at all stages; from start up to now in year six – and it was in fact a mentor that supported and challenged me to make this very step –to found Women Ahead six years ago. Mentoring enabled me to make this leap, embrace the (many!) challenges, and to always process and learn from the setbacks and acknowledge successes along the way.”
Prospective mentors and mentees can apply online and the deadline for applications is close of business February 6, 2020. The programme itself will start in March after the matching process, and will run throughout the year.