Within days of losing her job, Margaret had met with Jackie, a mentor from the organisation GrowBiz in Perthshire, and had applied for the courses and filled in the forms necessary to register as care worker.
She is now attending monthly meetings with other entrepreneurs in her area that are organised by GrowBiz and funded through a grant from RBS Inspiring Women in Enterprise. The meetings enable her to learn how to progress her business from those who have already been through the process.
Margaret says: “I wouldn’t have had the courage to go out and do this on my own. It’s thanks to Jackie, GrowBiz and the meetings that I’ve got so far in such a short space of time.”
Growbiz is just one of about 30 organisations that has benefitted from an RBS Inspiring Women in Enterprise grant, designed to fund enterprise support organisations that help female entrepreneurs on the path to success.
Women make up 51% of the UK population but only 17% of business owners – and men are twice as likely to start a business as women, according to research by RBS*. RBS believes that more can be done to encourage female entrepreneurs, and to help redress this balance, it provides grants to organisations that supply training and support for women to get into enterprise.
The latest round of funding has opened and the bank is inviting applications for Inspiring Women in Enterprise grants with a total funding pot of £ 250,000.
It could be you
To be eligible, an organisation must be UK based and not-for-profit, running programmes to help women explore their enterprise potential and equip them with the skills necessary to start their own business.
Applications open today, Monday 7 April, and close on Thursday 17 April at noon. Full eligibility criteria and the application form can be found on the Inspiring Women in Enterprise grant fund website.
Each year, grant funding of £500,000 is made available to support organisations which help women to start up their own businesses. To date, RBS has paid grants to 32 organisations , which have inspired more than 3,500 women on their entrepreneurial journey, creating over 200 businesses.
It was them
One of the previously funded organisations, GrowBiz, is a community-based enterprise organisation in Perthshire, Scotland. Women make up 70% of its clients, and GrowBiz wants to help more get into business, particularly those who suffer from additional challenges such as health issues, disabilities or unemployment.
GrowBiz organises regular group meetings, funded by an RBS Inspiring Women in Enterprise grant, in venues across Eastern and Highland Perthshire. These provide opportunities for local business owners and start-ups to share information, challenges and advice, and to receive mutual support from their peers.
Anna Bowman sought help from Growbiz four years ago when she first had the idea of setting up a shop stocking fair-trade gifts - bags, scarves, jewellery and other items. Growbiz provided a mentor to support her through the process. “We worked very closely,” says Anna. “Fiona [the mentor]asked me questions so I could figure out myself what I should do. She could also point me in the direction of other people who could help – she had a huge pool of people to call on. After six months I opened my shop All things Fair.”
Even though her business is more developed than Margaret’s, Anna still benefits from attending Growbiz meetings to share ideas with other business women, provide and benefit from support and advice – all on a completely confidential basis.
“When you are self employed it’s easy to feel isolated and lonely. It’s great to be able to seek advice and share thoughts through Growbiz meetings without fearing that this will go any further than the people in your group,” says Anna.
Thom Kenrick, Head of Sustainability Programmes, RBS said: “There are so many support organisations out there doing fantastic work but with additional financial support they can expand their reach and influence.
“Together with RBS, we can encourage more people, in more communities, to explore enterprise, build new skills and ultimately start up and succeed in business.”
Visit the RBS Inspiring Enterprise website for more information, FAQs and case studies of past winners.
*Women in Enterprise, A different Perspective (pdf)