The Santander Breakthrough Women Business Leaders' Mentoring Programme

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The Santander Breakthrough Women Business Leaders' Mentoring Programme

Supporting women and entrepreneurship

Santander is a signatory member to the UK government Investing in Women Code, which was launched in 2019 and founded from the Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship.

The code is a commitment to support the advancement of female entrepreneurship in the UK by improving access to tools, resources and finance from the financial services sector.

As part of our commitment, we're very proud to deliver the Women Business Leaders' Mentoring Programme powered by Moving Ahead.

About the programme

This mentoring scheme is for the next generation of fast-growth female entrepreneurs.

We match women business leaders from across the UK with carefully selected mentors from a variety of industries and backgrounds, who will support their mentees as they consider their next stage of business and professional growth.

To help our mentees think differently and innovatively, we match them with someone from a different sector, and both male and female mentors are involved.

From the outset, mentors and mentees will have regular contact with each other and decide together on the business objectives and support required.

Pairings will use materials and a framework provided by Santander and Moving Ahead, to work together to establish areas of development that enable and foster business growth and professional development over the nine month programme.

The programme will run from March to November 2022.

What we look for in a mentee

You don't need to be a Santander customer to apply, but you must be the female owner or majority shareholder of a business with an annual turnover up to £6.5m. 

You'll need to:

  • be keen to develop your business 
  • be prepared to take responsibility for progressing your business
  • be capable of scaling up your business and boosting local employment
  • be ready to be mentored, with a willingness to receive feedback and advice
  • have an awareness of your own strengths and limitations
  • have not previously taken part in this programme as a mentee.
What we look for in a mentor

You don't need to be a Santander customer and can be any gender. You'll need to run, or own your own business (or have done so in the past), or be a business leader with corporate experience. And if you’ve previously been a mentee then we’d welcome your application as a mentor.

We're looking for mentors who want to make a difference and help someone work through a challenge. You'll need to:

  • understand how entrepreneurial organisations work and be happy to share perspectives based on experiences
  • act as a positive role model
  • be committed, reliable and maintain confidentiality
  • have great listening skills and be easy to talk to
  • be comfortable completing introductory mentor training.
Business mentoring

Apply for your place

Applications for the 2022 programme are now open, please use the links below to apply.

Mentorship is many things, for some it is having an ear that will listen to you, for others it’s just having someone else’s fresh ideas, or it’s that gentle nudge you need to move you in the right direction. Above all mentoring is a very personal journey which can build confidence and grow a supportive allyship. When combined, this all has a profound impact on your mindset, personal life, and business success.

I am so proud of this mentoring programme, and the mentors and mentees that have joined us over the past few years who have helped us to shape something special, which champions and celebrates female entrepreneurship. Every year we meet new people who bring their enthusiasm, passion, expertise, and creativity and who are ready to support and challenge each other. So whatever mentoring means to you, we would love to have you join us.   

Louise Robinson

Head of Breakthrough, Santander

Moving 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 but rewarding step, and one I am grateful to have made and have never regretted.

I’ve personally benefited from mentoring throughout my career. In fact, it was a mentor who supported and challenged me to launch my social impact organisation, Moving Ahead. Seven years later, I still cherish my mentor’s wisdom as we’ve grown from a start-up with a team of seven, to an organisation operating across the world with more than 30 wonderful colleagues.

Mentoring enabled me to make this leap, embrace the many challenges, process and learn from the setbacks, and acknowledge successes along the way

Liz Dimmock

Founder and CEO, Moving Ahead

Mentoring Stories

Sophia Loren, CEO and founder of Just Nevaeh

Hazel Russell, Co-founder of The Wood Life Project and her Mentor Keeley Hazelhurst, Director of Financial Pathways Ltd

Heather Barrie, Managing Director of Harries Coffee and her Mentor Paul Gosling, Relationship Director at Corporate Planning Financial Services Ltd

Hannah-Ruth, Founder of Sayaw

Dr Narisa Chauvidul-Aw, Founder and CEO of KogoPAY

Effie Dower and Sophie Swallow, Founders of Sleep Thief

Grace Francis, Founder of DramEd

Ella Anais Gilchrist, Founder of Soicella

Ali Hodges, Managing Director and Co-founder of Abode Heat

Did you know?

  • A UENI UK wide study of 22,000 SMEs in Jan 2020 showed that 7,205 were launched by women, setting the UK number of businesses currently owned by women at 32.37%. This highlights a remarkable uplift from four years ago when just 17% of founders were female. (UENI's 2020 Report on Gender and Small Business - UENI Blog)
  • The Rose Review found that female-led businesses receive less funding than those headed by men at every stage of their journey, launching with 53% less capital on average. Family care responsibilities also limit the ability of female entrepreneurs, with women twice as likely as men to mention family responsibilities as a barrier to starting a business. (Rose Review 2019)
  • Networks are a powerful mechanism to inspire and support entrepreneurs and increase the likelihood that they will be successful. Women are less likely to know at least one entrepreneur. The Rose Review highlighted a strong desire among women for relevant, relatable, local networking options that are accessible to those with family care responsibilities or living rurally. 
  • Up to £250 billion of value could be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men. (The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship 2019)
  • Female entrepreneurs were hit particularly hard by the pandemic and that impact is exacerbated with the additional responsibility of caring for family. Seventy-seven per cent have found it stressful managing a business during the crisis compare to 55% of men, and women owners are 17% more likely to struggle to balance a business with family life. (YouGov survey research, December 2020)
  • Networks are great ways for aspiring entrepreneurs to find inspiration, build confidence and seek support. The Rose Review found that women are less likely than men to know any entrepreneurs, however, and often struggle to find female role models and mentors to whom they can relate. (Rose review – Female entrepreneurship progress 2021)

A mentor is not someone who walks ahead of us to show us how they did it. A mentor walks alongside us to show us what we can do

Simon Sinek

February 2021 (Twitter)

Who is Moving Ahead

Moving ahead

Moving Ahead is a social impact organisation working to improve workplace inclusion and diversity. Their mission is to create an inclusive society in which individuals and organisations can be at their best. They work cross-sector, cross-company and cross diversity-strand, designing and delivering mentoring, development programmes and research that helps organisations achieve diversity of thought and perform better. Moving Ahead’s flagship mentoring programme – run on behalf of the 30% club – campaigns for greater representation on company boards. Over the last seven years these award-winning mentoring schemes have supported over 15,800 mentees from over 200 companies globally.