Santander launches its largest ever programme to support Women in Business

  • New programme aims to match 180 mentors and mentees 
  • 25% of high growth businesses in the UK are founded by women 
  • Businesses of all sectors and sizes are encouraged to join the scheme 

Santander UK has today launched its largest ever programme to bolster its support for businesswomen across the UK - the ‘Women Business Leaders’ mentoring programme. 

Designed to support women in business across the UK, the mentoring programme pairs budding female entrepreneurs with established business leaders across all sectors, business sizes and geographies. 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 quickly to the programme1 as spaces will fill up fast.  

Following a successful smaller scale programme in 2019, this year the scale and ambition is even greater as the bank expects to pair 90 mentors with 90 female entrepreneurs and SME owners. 

Recent data2 revealed that the proportion of investment in female-founded businesses declined to just nine per cent in 2019 – a drop from 15% four years earlier in 2015. Despite this, approximately 25% of high growth companies in the UK have a female founder. A separate report3 by Women Ahead and Moving Ahead, showed “effective mentoring is not only turning the gender dial, but is paving the way for a more inclusive, connected and diverse workforce and society”.

Louise Robinson, Head of Breakthrough, Santander 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, Founder and CEO, Women Ahead said: “Women Ahead is delighted to be partnering with Santander to deliver this programme. As an entrepreneur myself, I understand just how exciting, yet also challenging it can be. It’s a massive yet rewarding step and one I am grateful to have made and never regretted. 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, my social impact organisation 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.” 

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 facilitated peer to peer sessions in response to the participants requests.

Prospective mentors and mentees can apply online and the deadline for applications is close of business on Friday 31 January 2020. The programme itself will start in March, once the mentors and mentees have been matched, and will run throughout the year. 

- Ends -

The information contained in our press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions.

Case studies available from last year’s pilot of a successful mentor/mentee pairing.

Notes to Editors 
2)    Beauhurst report: ‘Female Entrepreneurs: gender diversity across the UK’s high-growth ecosystem’ 
3)    Women Ahead/Deloitte Research 2017 – “Turning the gender diversity dial”

To be eligible for this programme the mentee must be the owner or majority shareholder of a business, have been trading for at least one year and be capable of scaling up the business and boosting local employment.

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. It has brought real competition to the UK, through its innovative products for retail customers and relationship banking model for UK SMEs. At 30 June 2019, the bank has around 24,000 employees.  It serves around 15 million active customers, via a nationwide branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking; and 62 regional Corporate Business Centres. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK. 

About Us
Banco Santander
(SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading retail and commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in Europe and the Americas, and is the largest bank in the euro zone by market capitalization. Its purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Santander is building a more responsible bank and has made a number of commitments to support this objective, including raising over €120 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2025, as well as financially empowering more than 10 million people over the same period. At the end of September 2019, Banco Santander had EUR 1.04 trillion in customer funds, 144 million customers, of which 21 million are loyal and 36.2 million are digital (51% of active customers), 12,700 branches and 200,000 employees. Banco Santander made underlying profit of EUR 6,180 million in the first nine months of 2019, an increase of 2% compared to the same period the previous year.

Media Enquiries
Lara Lipsey     T: 020 7756 4518  M: 07713 560 209    E:  
Millie Allen    T: 020 7756 4221  M: 07845 051 938    E: 

Follow @santanderuknews on Twitter

The Santander press office operates from 8.00am to 6.00pm. Outside of these hours please call 0800 5877708.