Santander has launched the breakthrough 'Women in Business Programme' (WiB) a mentoring scheme for the next generation of female UK entrepreneurs. This was launched in association with Cause4, the award-winning social enterprise. The programme will support 30 female entrepreneurs and match them with female mentors who themselves are running successful businesses generating multi-million pound revenues.
The Women in Business (WiB) programme is specifically tailored to helping female entrepreneurs by acknowledging the challenges many women may face in business and focusing on female orientated networking, mentoring and support.
The Women and Work Commission found that unleashing women’s full potential could be worth £23 billion a year to the Exchequer, but that only 4% of women are engaged in entrepreneurial activity compared to 9% of men.
Women work differently to men, and often balance other commitments such as family obligations, leading to some women feeling isolated in their work. With a different work and life balance, it is important that women are given equal access to support systems and networking events that may help target female specific issues.
It is becoming increasingly important to encourage and enable potential female entrepreneurs to have access to support and to join up their skills and expertise with other likeminded individuals. With recent pressure on companies to increase the number of women in leadership roles, it is important at this time to address the support and networking that is available to women.
As a businesswoman myself, I have greatly benefitted from the advice, support and guidance of a mentor, and I would encourage any female entrepreneurs or business women to follow suit. Mentoring not only benefits professional decisions, but also enhances the confidence of individuals at all levels of a company.
Role models provide a key source of mentoring for women in business, and it is a shame that they seem so few and far between.
If, as a professional group, female business leaders can increase exposure to mentoring and role models, the ripple effect down generations will greatly impact the female footprint on UK businesses, and motivate future generations to become entrepreneurs, a vital part of the UK SME and business community.