Santander UK launches its Breakthrough Women Business Leaders Mentoring Programme 2024

  • Santander UK this week launches its sixth annual Women Business Leaders Mentoring Programme1, which matches female business owners with experienced business professionals to mentor them across a nine-month period. 
  • Applications for the programme are now open until Monday 19 February.
  • New research2 shows that almost half of UK business-owners believe their business would have got off the ground quicker if they had asked for more help in the early days. 
  • While only 27% of businesses have a mentor when starting out, 93% of these said it made starting their own business easier. 

Santander UK this week has launched this year’s Women Business Leaders Mentoring Programme1 to inspire the next generation of fast-growth ambitious female founders and business owners.

Now in its sixth year, to date, the programme has supported over 750 female founded businesses take their businesses to the next level with almost 19,000 hours of mentoring. The programme matches female business owners with experienced professionals to mentor them, sharing their knowledge and skills over the course of nine months.

New research2 by Santander shows that while only 27% of businesses have a mentor when starting out, 93% of these said it made starting their own business easier. However, 87% said that seeking support is easier said than done, with one in four being unlikely to ask for help when they need it. 

Susan Davies, Head of Business Banking at Santander UK said: “In business and in life, asking for help and advice is essential, but it’s not always easy to do. For as hard as it can be, asking for help means you can learn and grow – and hopefully avoid making a few mistakes along the way too.”

According to the research, more than a third of UK adults have had a situation in their career where they have regretted not asking for help at all or sooner, with 50% of these instances leading to a mistake that could have been avoided, and after reaching out for help at work, 57% said it helped them progress their careers.

Susan Davies added: “Asking for help is not a burden; it's an investment in your own growth. That’s why we launched our programme - to match female business owners with experienced business professionals, giving them the opportunity to share insights and experiences. A problem shared is a problem halved, and you’d be surprised how much people are willing to help if they’re only asked for it.”

Almost two thirds of entrepreneurs said that starting a business on their own was one of the hardest things they have ever done, with 47% believing their business would have got off the ground quicker if they had asked for more help in the early days.

Sarah Willingham, entrepreneur, and Dragons Den star said: “It’s a no brainer! Asking for help is like pushing on an open door, there are so many people and organisations out there willing to help, guide and support business owners. I know how lonely it can be, but having a mentor is one of the best ways to help you and your business, whatever stage your business is at. At each meeting, agree what you’re going to do and take action – no action means no change.”

Applications for the 2024 cohort of the Santander Breakthrough Women Business Leaders’ Mentoring Programme are now open. To find out more, or to apply before the deadline on 19 February, visit:

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Notes to Editors 

  1. More information on the programme and how to apply can be found
  2. Research conducted with over 500 UK businesses by One Poll from 8-18 December 2023.

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 30 June 2023, the bank had around 19,400 employees and serves around 14 million active customers, 7 million digital customers via a nationwide 445 branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the FCA and the PRA in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the FSCS in the UK.

Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in the Europe, North America and South America regions, and is one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. Santander aims to be the best open financial services platform providing services to individuals, SMEs, corporates, financial institutions and governments. The bank’s 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 €220 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2030. At the end of the third quarter of 2023, Banco Santander had €1.3 trillion in total funds, 166 million customers, 8,700 branches and 212,000 employees.