Banking giant joins with Fund Her North to support female entrepreneurs

Jess Jackson

Fund Her North, a regional volunteer collective covering the North of England, has partnered with NatWest to support investment opportunities for female entrepreneurs in Manchester, Liverpool and the wider North of England.

The collective is the first of its kind in the UK and aims to encourage more women in the North of England to apply for investments and funding to support entrepreneurship and grow female-led businesses, particularly in a post-COVID world.

Bringing together more than 30 women from the investment industry, Fund Her North was established in October 2020 and has a combined investment power of £450m, as well as a history of investing more than £75m in female-led start-up businesses.

The strategic new partnership with NatWest was announced during a virtual event on July 22, which was attended by more than 100 people.

The event brought together female investment experts and business owners from across the North and highlighted how businesses can grow post-pandemic.

The new partnership forms part of NatWest’s purpose-led strategy which aims to support enterprise funding post-COVID-19. The collaboration also aligns with the bank’s continued work as part of the Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship, which was published in 2019.

Alison Rose, CEO at NatWest, recorded a video message especially for the event, where she said: “There has never been a more important time to get behind UK businesses and Fund Her North’s mission aligns with our commitment to help create 50,000 new jobs by 2023, 75% of which will be outside of London and the South East.

“What’s more, we want women to be at the helm of 60% of these businesses, with 20% of these women coming from ethnic minority backgrounds. Fund Her North will help turn this ambition into a reality and I am excited to pledge our support to the collective.”

Jess Jackson, head of investment at GC Angels and member of Fund Her North, said: “At GC Angels, we are proud of the work we do to ensure that female founders are given the same opportunities as their male counterparts. This work has resulted in 39% of all our raises going to women, but, sadly, this does not reflect the national picture. It’s been inspiring working with a group of women who share my ambition to make equity investment work for female-fronted businesses.”

She added: “Fund Her North was formed out of an urgent need to address the imbalances in access to investment available for female-led organisations in the North. With female founders two thirds more likely to receive investment from female investors, we focus on both female entrepreneurs and investors. Though we are a new organisation, we’ve already seen some promising results. Our first pitch event has generated circa £1.5m in investment offers, while our recent event for female angel investors had 100 attendees.

“It’s clear that this is a conversation that is gaining momentum, and the more we can expose and address these imbalances, the closer we get to a system that works for everybody.”

Heather Waters, enterprise manager at NatWest, said: “The partnership with Fund Her North offers NatWest a progressive opportunity to support women across the whole of the North and encourage their enterprise and investment ambitions.

“The Rose Review found that only 13% of senior people in UK investment teams are women, while almost half of investment teams have no women whatsoever. Moreover, access to finance was found to be the number one barrier recognised by female entrepreneurs in the review, with only six per cent of teams receiving funds being all-female.

“The disparity is very clear, and NatWest remains committed to helping women overcome this barrier. It is only through commitment and collaboration that we can support the North’s economy by encouraging female business founders from all walks of life.”