03Women Business Leaders’ Mentoring Programme

Women and entrepreneurship

Only 4% of women are engaged in entrepreneurial activity compared to 9% of men, and if women set up businesses at the same rate as men, there'd be an extra 150,000 start-ups in the UK each year according to BITC.
In October 2018, we launched our Women Business Leaders’ Mentoring Programme, powered by Women Ahead, to deliver a mentoring scheme for the next generation of fast-growth female entrepreneurs.

About the programme

The programme sees women business leaders from across the UK matched with carefully selected mentors from a variety of industries and backgrounds, in order to support their mentees as they consider their next stage of business and professional growth.

Designed to help our mentees to set and achieve their goals, they’re matched with mentors based on the support and needs identified during the application process.

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.

The 2018 programme will run from the beginning of November 2018 to July 2019.

Mentor eligibility criteria

  • Open to all genders who currently run or own their own business (or have done in the past) or be a business leader with at least five years of corporate experience
  • Understand how entrepreneurial organisations work and be happy to share perspectives based on experiences
  • Can act as a positive role model
  • Be committed, reliable and maintain confidentiality
  • Have great listening skills and be easy to talk to
  • Want to make a positive difference and help someone work through a challenge
  • You don’t need to be a Santander Business customer

Mentee eligibility criteria

  • Be the female owner or majority shareholder of a business, with an annual turnover of between £50,000 and £3 million
  • Have been trading for at least one year
  • Be capable of scaling up your business and boosting local employment
  • Be keen to develop and be prepared to take responsibility for progressing your business
  • Be ready to be mentored, with a willingness to seek feedback and receive advice
  • Have an awareness of your own strengths and limitations
  • You don’t need to be a Santander Business Banking customer

Register your interest

The 2018 programme is now closed for applications, however if you’re interested in taking part in a future programme, please register your interest.

Mentees and mentors have regular contact with each other, and from the outset, the mentoring pairing jointly identify business objectives and the support required. Using the materials and framework provided by Santander and Women Ahead, they work together to establish areas of development to enable and foster business growth and professional development over the nine month programme.


Louise Robinson

Head of Breakthrough, Santander

Alongside the many activities that Santander Breakthrough undertakes to support all SME business owners, we’ve always ensured that we build in activity that offers a specific level of support to Women Business Leaders.

The strongest determinant for success for a female entrepreneur is about being able to take considered risks, to be resilient and to learn quickly when things go wrong. Working through issues, discussing opportunities, developing links and a support network with other entrepreneurs can be hugely valuable, which is why we’re launching our Breakthrough Women Business Leaders’ Mentoring programme.

Liz Dimmock

Founder and CEO, Women Ahead

Women Ahead is delighted to be partnering with Santander to deliver this programme. As an entrepreneur myself, I understand just how daunting and overwhelming it can sometimes feel to go it alone. It’s a massive but rewarding step and one I’ve never regretted.

I’ve personally benefitted from mentoring – in fact, I believed in the power of mentoring so much that four years ago I founded my social impact organisation, Women Ahead. Mentoring enabled me to make this leap, embrace the (many!) challenges, and to always process and learn from the setbacks and success.

What is Women Ahead?

Women Ahead is a social impact organisation working with big organisations to increase all spheres of diversity and inclusion. They believe that diversity of thought, experience and teams lead to better business performance.

That's why, through mentoring, storytelling and research they're working to improve workplace diversity and inclusion. Women Ahead's sister company Moving Ahead runs the world's largest cross-company mentoring scheme on behalf of the 30% Club which campaigns for greater female representation on company boards. This award-winning scheme currently supports 1,972 mentors and mentees from over 100 organisations.