Enterprise | RBS


Helping people build and grow businesses

We’re going beyond being a provider of financial services. We’re inspiring people to start in business – and providing the support and resources they need to help them succeed. 

We believe everyone deserves this opportunity, whatever their background.  By encouraging and supporting start-ups, we’re also boosting the UK economy.

2017 highlights:

  • Across our accelerators throughout the UK, we have supported 3,868 companies with an aggregate turnover of over £651 million **
  • Our Skills & Opportunities Fund has so far provided more than 785 people with the skills and opportunities needed to start a business
  • Our partnership with the Prince’s Trust  helped 921 young disadvantaged and/or unemployed people start their entrepreneurial journey*
  • We set up a team of 73 Business Growth Enablers, who use their network of experts across different industries and regions to provide training, mentoring and support to small businesses
  • We now have over 400 independently accredited Women in Business Specialists, giving mentoring and financial guidance & support to female entrepreneurs. No other bank has this.

Supporting entrepreneurship


Our Entrepreneurship initiatives are making us the bank of choice for entrepreneurs. The innovative programmes we offer are helping customers realise their ambitions to start grow and scale their business by sharing our connectivity, reach and expertise. 

Entrepreneurial Spark


Entrepreneurial Spark, powered by NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank, is the world’s largest free business-accelerator for start-up and scale-up businesses. 


Our support helps ambitious entrepreneurs grow their business. We offer free workspaces, mentoring, funding clinics, bespoke workshops and access to a world-class entrepreneurial community. 


 2017 highlights:


  • 87% of companies that have used our programme are still trading one year on
  • Across our accelerators throughout the UK, we have supported 3,868 companies with an aggregate turnover of over £651 million
  • We’ve helped secure over £255 million worth of investment for entrepreneurs in the programme, who in turn have created 8,096 jobs
  • We have over 5,900 RBS staff in training with the Entrepreneurial Development Academy. The academy has just been officially accredited by the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs and is recognised externally as an accreditation


* *Data is compiled by Entrepreneurial Spark. The data includes all business who have been part of the programme since launch in 2012.

Note: As of 1st March the bank has come to an agreement with Entrepreneurial Spark that will see the transition of its network of entrepreneur accelerator hubs to be 100% managed and run by the bank.  The announcement confirms the bank’s commitment to ensuring that the UK’s entrepreneurs get the best possible start and chance to succeed.  



Scottish EDGE Fund 

Through Scottish EDGE, innovative entrepreneurs with high-growth potential compete to win grants of up to £150,000.  


We’re one of the key partners, along with the Scottish Government and the Hunter Foundation. The Fund’s office is based at our headquarters in Gogarburn.


Since it started four years ago, EDGE has:


  • Supported 292 individual businesses, awarded across the eleven completed rounds
  • Awarded £10.6m (£8m to Scottish EDGE winners, £1.2m to Higgs winners, £720,000 to Young EDGE and £630,000 to Wild Card EDGE and £50,000 to our first ever Creative EDGE award winner)
  • Created 1,214 jobs
  • Generated over £80m of additional turnover
  • Increased winners’ turnover levels by £80m when measured against their previous six-monthly trading periods
  • Secured £87.9m of additional investment




The Prince's Trust Enterprise Programme

NatWest was one of the original supporters of The Prince’s Trust when it was established in 1976 – making it one of The Trust’s longest standing corporate supporters. The bank has maintained a UK-wide partnership with The Trust for 17 years and has provided more than £22 million of funding.


We are the largest corporate supporter of The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme. Together we are supporting the next generation of UK entrepreneurs by providing start-up help to 18 to 30-year-olds who are unemployed or working fewer than 16 hours a week. The programme helps young people interested in self-employment to explore and test their business ideas through a four-day Explore Enterprise course. These budding young entrepreneurs can also access mentoring and last-resort funding – or get advice about alternative options in education, training, volunteering or work.


2017 highlights:


  • We donated more than £1 million - part of a £3 million pledge over the three years
  • Our colleagues and customers fundraised and gave over £97,000
  • Over 403 RBS colleagues volunteered with The Trust, using their skills to deliver workshops, provide business mentoring or other support
  • Our partnership directly supported over 921 young people taking part in the Enterprise Programme and over 1,708 through our volunteering efforts
  • We are the lead sponsors of the Enterprise module on The Trust's new learning portal - Prince's Trust Online - which will enable even more young people to benefit from the explore enterprise course


Innovation Gateway 


The Innovation Gateway was established by RBS to provide innovators and SMEs with access to new markets by piloting their solutions within the bank’s estate.


Since the Innovation Gateway partnership was set up in 2014, RBS has held seven challenge rounds with business owners and implemented 36 trials across our buildings including Gogarburn, branches and office spaces in London and Bristol. Ten of these trials were deemed successful and we hope to role out within our estate in 2018.


2017 highlights:


  • We have grown our crowdsourcing community to 1,500


  • Since 2014, we have mentored over 35 Innovators
  • We engaged Location and Property Strategy and Workplace projects to take part in the next round of innovation challenges
  • The branch gateway was launched in 2017 to identify how we can reduce our environment impact in the branch network. We are currently working with five innovators to help us resolve this 
  • Installs in the branch are due to take place in H2 2017, with results announced in H1 2018. One innovation, Measure my Energy has already identified assets in the branch that could be potentially switched off overnight, which help us save money by reducing our energy consumption
  • All innovators who are invited to trial with us can now apply to become part of Entrepreneurial Spark. To date we have had four innovators who have since joined, including  Air2eau, Halcyon, Ocuair and Earth Save Products
  • The gateway partnership has grown to include RBS, Carillion, Heathrow Airport, Lancaster University, Edinburgh University, Unite Students, Kingfisher, Tesco and Nottingham City Council





Being the bank of choice for business

We have listened to our business customers and understand more about the services they need and how we can help them become successful.


Helping businesses grow with Boost 

In April 2016 we launched Boost. The programme offers free advice to small businesses – regardless of whether they bank with us or not. This need was highlighted in our recent NatWest Entrepreneurship Monitor, which showed that:


  • Only 38% of small-business owners know where to go to for advice
  • Only 33% have proper networks of useful advisors

We set up a team of 73 Business Growth Enablers. They use their networks of experts accross different industries and regions to provide training, mentoring and support to small businesses.


Since inception our Business Growth Enablers:


  • Ran more than 5,000 local events in conjunction with our partners, attended by an estimated 210,000 small businesses, whether they banked with us or not
  • Went to 15,371 networking events (10,871 in the first ten months of 2017)
  • Contributed £91.9m new lending in the first 11 months of 2017, with a further £11m in progress
  • We’re also giving 18 months of free banking for small businesses, as well as support from our Business Growth Enablers



How we help women in business 

Currently only 18% of businesses in the UK are female led. Supporting more women into enterprise is pivotal in growing our economy, creating jobs, wealth and confidence. We are working with women from all backgrounds across the UK to provide them with the same opportunities as their male counterparts.


In 2017:


  • We now have over 400 independently accredited Women in Business Specialists, giving mentoring and financial guidance & support to female entrepreneurs. No other bank has this
  • In 2017, we have uplifted our lending to Women Led Business by 7% to over £138m new lending to this group
  • Additionally, we have switched 30% more WiB business to the group and seen a 33% increase in new accounts being opened by female entrepreneurs
  • NatWest sponsors the Everywoman Awards for female entrepreneurs and the 2017 Asian Women of Achievement Awards
  • NatWest ran eight events in partnership with the National Black Women’s Network, supporting black and ethnic minority women starting new businesses
  • We launched WISE 100 recognising the Top 100 women in social enterprises in the UK






Supporting charities and social enterprises

Supporting charities and social enterprises to make a difference in their communities is an important part of what we do.


Skills & Opportunities Fund

Launched in May 2015, the Skills & Opportunities Fund offers £2.5 million each year to non-profit organisations across the UK & Ireland.  


The Fund provides grants to local charities, social enterprises, state-funded schools and colleges, and community groups to enable people in disadvantaged communities to develop or access the skills and opportunities they need to build their financial capability skills or to start or develop a new business now or in the future. Since it started, the Fund has reached over 95,000 people, contributing to each individual’s chance to succeed, and created over 1,000 new businesses and got over 4,000 people into employment. Many of the projects are not scheduled to end till July 2019, so it is very likely to have a positive impact on at least double this number.


In 2017:

  • We distributed £2.5 million to 110 organisations that supported people from disadvantaged communities to develop, or access the skills and opportunities they need to start or develop a new business
  • We received 1,214 applications from organisations across the UK and Republic of Ireland
  • Of the 1,214 applications we supported 93 with grants of up to £35,000 each*
  • We estimate that we have helped 8,467 people 


*Data is compiled by Project North East (PNE). The data is based on the total spend allocated by each Regional Board.


Social enterprise

Our support for social enterprise has deepened in 2017.


We launched two new initiatives during the year. In September, we hosted the first Good Stories conference for social enterprises. In October, we launched the first Women in Social Enterprise 100 index, the WISE100, at an event at our Bishopsgate Offices, recognising inspiring female leaders and celebrating the role of Women in Social enterprise.


NatWest’s social lending charity, NatWest Social & Community Capital (S&CC), significantly increased lending to social enterprises that are unable to borrow from mainstream banks. In 2017, approved new lending was 60% higher than the previous year. We approved 19 loans with a value of £1.55m, compared with eleven loans at £0.97m for 2016.


In 2017, S&CC expanded into Northern Ireland, with its first social enterprise loan. We also hosted our first Northern Ireland SE100 Social Business Club event in November.


NatWest S&CC produced a second impact report in 2017 and undertook a customer survey. The results were very positive with 100% of customers saying they would recommend us. We produced a series of new customer case-study videos that are now on our website.


*Limited assurance provided by Ernst & Young LLP.



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