Enterprise | RBS


Helping people build and grow businesses

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

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

2018 highlights:

  • In February, we announced that we were bringing our UK-wide network of Entrepreneur Accelerator hubs in-house. Together, these hubs make up the UK’s largest fully-funded business accelerator network. In 2018, more than 1,800 businesses joined our core Accelerator programme
  • More than 390 jobs created by businesses participating in NatWest’s Entrepreneur Accelerator programme since April 2018(*).
  • Our Entrepreneurship team has supported more than 6,400 entrepreneurs this year through our core Accelerator programme, Pre-Accelerator and Taster sessions
  • Our Skills & Opportunities Fund distributed £1.35 million (from a total of £2.5 million) to support people to start or develop a business now or in the future
  • We have 511 independently accredited Women in Business Specialists, giving mentoring and financial guidance, as well as support to female entrepreneurs
  • Through our Boost programme, we delivered 4,090 events and seminars on topics including fraud prevention, cybersecurity and finance, amongst others, to more than 186,000 small businesses

  • Supporting entrepreneurship


    We’re committed to becoming the UK’s best bank for entrepreneurs. Our entrepreneur and social enterprise support programmes are designed to address the specific needs of the individual entrepreneur and their enterprise. We believe this will help create the right environment needed for these businesses to start, scale and succeed.

Entrepreneurial Accelerators


In early 2018, we announced that we were bringing our UK-wide network of 12 Entrepreneur Accelerator hubs in-house. Together, these hubs make up the UK’s largest fully-funded business accelerator network and are capable of supporting 1,000 entrepreneurs simultaneously across the country. In 2018, we have supported more than 6,400 entrepreneurs through the three fully-funded propositions that are at the heart of our support for entrepreneurs:


  • Our core Accelerator is a 6 to 18 month programme for entrepreneurs with high-growth businesses looking to scale up. Designed to ensure that these businesses get the best chance to succeed, entrepreneurs receive free office space, free wi-fi, free business advice and mentoring, bespoke coaching, and access to the bank’s networks and supply chains
  • Our digitally-led Pre-Accelerator is a scalable programme designed to support the needs of those early stage start-ups that want to grow and scale their business by focusing on the key driver to success – the entrepreneur. This eight-week programme is a hybrid digital and physical engagement proposition, encompassing three core areas: digital learning; environment; and network
  • Our Entrepreneur Taster sessions are intensive workshops run by our Entrepreneur Acceleration Managers covering a range of topics including pitching, growth mindsets, funding & investment, franchising and vision

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 18 years and has provided more than £23 million of funding.


We are the largest corporate supporter of The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme. Our shared mission is to help young people to start up and succeed in business. 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.


2018 highlights:


  • 964 young people completed the Enterprise programme
  • 29 graduates of the Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme went on to secure places in the bank’s Entrepreneur Accelerators
  • NatWest was the lead sponsor on the Prince’s Trust’s #YouAreTheNext campaign
  • 8 Prince’s Trust entrepreneurs were shortlisted in the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards
  • 282 bank colleagues volunteered with The Trust, using their skills to deliver workshops, provide business mentoring or other support


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 at Kirkstane House in Glasgow.


Since it started four years ago, EDGE has:


  • Supported 350 individual businesses, awarded across the 13 completed rounds
  • Awarded £13.62m (£9.8m to Scottish EDGE winners, £1.5m to Higgs winners, £870,000 to Young EDGE and £780,000 to Wild Card EDGE and £150,000 to Creative EDGE award winners and £100,000 to Social Enterprise EDGE winner)
  • Created 1,652 jobs
  • Increased winners’ turnover levels by £131.29m when measured against their previous six-monthly trading periods
  • Secured £108.33m of additional investment

Innovation Gateway 


The Innovation Gateway was created as a way to accelerate new property innovation by opening up RBS’s buildings as a test bed for small innovators and inventors. This benefits us by helping us achieve our long-term sustainability goals, as well as supporting our local communities by helping innovators get their products to market.


Our aim is to offer SMEs, innovators and inventors with pioneering ideas on resource efficiency the opportunity to test their ideas within a select part of our UK portfolio. This enables us to support SMEs in finding a clear route to market, using the data from their trials to help grow their product within the wider market and share among the Gateway Partnership.


The Gateway Partnership has grown to include Tesco, Heathrow Airport, Edinburgh University, Unite Students, Kingfisher, Places for People and Nottingham City Council.


The initiative is being managed by 2degrees, the world's leading collaboration platform and service for sustainable business, which brings its proven track record in crowd-sourcing innovation, helping the Gateway Partnership companies to find and foster resource efficient innovations, and assess them in a structured way with minimum time and cost. 2degrees has designed the innovation crowdsourcing process at the heart of the Gateway programme and will administer the innovation rounds.


For RBS, the Gateway’s objectives are simple:

  • Help RBS save water, waste and energy
  • Nurture a new wave of brilliant innovators
  • Help SMEs and innovators to accelerate their access to market
  • Accelerate collaboration between innovators and our internal and external partners

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.


Giving a Boost to help small businesses grow 


In April 2016 we launched Boost, a programme which offers free advice to small businesses – regardless of whether they bank with us or not.


To deliver Boost, we have a team of 65 Business Growth Enablers who utilise their networks of local experts across different industries to provide training, mentoring and support to small businesses.


In 2018, our Business Growth Enablers:

  • Ran more than 4,090 local events in conjunction with our partners, attended by more than 186,000 small businesses, on a variety of topics including cybersecurity, fraud, finance, tax and women in business

  • Nearly 4,000 people attended a series of events providing guidance on GDPR implementation

  • Contributed £25.3 million in new lending

  • Our Business Growth Enablers have undertaken more than 1,600 hours of professional development training so far this year

How we help women in business 

According to the most recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, sponsored by NatWest, women are nearly twice as likely as men to start a business to make difference to society and ‘create meaning’. By having this insight into the motives of entrepreneurs, we have developed support programmes that are able to address the specific needs of the individual.

Our aim is to be ‘The Bank of Choice for Women’ and supporting female business leaders has been a long standing priority for us. The bank launched its Women in Business programme in 2003 to build a team of specialists who understand the different challenges that female business owners face, as well as the way they think and run their business.


Our 2018 highlights include:


  • Alison Rose, CEO of Commercial and Private banking, was appointed by HM Treasury in September 2018 to lead a review into the barriers facing women who want to start a business, and the reasons why only 20% of UK SMEs are run by women. The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship has been published.
  • We have over 500 accredited Women in Business specialists working across the UK
  • 250 business support events were held, attended by more than 11,000 women
  • £127.5m in new lending through our Women in Business programme, a 10% rise on 2017
  • Women make up 42% of the cohort who entered the main Accelerator programme in October and 52% of 659 participants on our first Pre-Accelerator launched in September

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, or to start or develop a new business now or in the future.

Since it started, the Fund has reached more than 148,064 people, contributing to each individual’s chance to succeed, and created more than 1,911 new businesses and got over 6,009 people into employment.


In 2018, our support has helped create 2,009 jobs and 911 start-ups.

Social & Community Capital

Our commitment to supporting social enterprise continued in 2018. NatWest’s social lending charity, NatWest Social & Community Capital (S&CC), made available significantly increased lending to social enterprises who were unable to borrow from mainstream banks. In 2018, approved new lending was 246% higher than the previous year. We approved 17 loans with a value of £3.8m, compared with 19 loans at £1.5m for 2017.


We’ve produced a series of customer case-study videos that are now on our website.


(*) Limited assurance provided by Ernst & Young LLP.



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