Women Business Leaders’ Mentoring Programme

Santander Breakthrough is delighted to announce the launch of our 2018 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

This programme will see 90 Women Business Leaders from across the UK be 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.

It’s designed to help our mentees to set and achieve their goals, and realise their full potential. Mentees will be matched with mentors based on the support and needs identified during the application process.

To help our mentees think differently and innovatively, we’ll aim to match you with someone from a different sector, and we’ll be encouraging both male and female mentors to get involved.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is a proven and practical way to broaden perspectives and aid business development. It can provide powerful learning opportunities for both mentors, mentees and their organisations.

It’s a two-way relationship based on an exchange of knowledge, experience and trust. It’s an ongoing conversation that builds personal and professional competencies and insights with the aim of maximising potential, improving performance and helping the mentee become the person they want to be.

What’s so insightful about mentoring?

You might think that mentoring is all about the benefit for a mentee, but experience and research show that both individuals gain from the relationship. Understanding different perspectives, developing skills, fostering new connections and building confidence are experienced by both mentors and mentees.

What’s so powerful about Santander Breakthrough’s mentoring programme?
  • You’re speaking to someone like you. While they’ll be from a completely different industry, challenges (and opportunities) can be remarkably consistent.
  • Speaking to someone outside your immediate business network can give you the confidence to be open and honest – there’s no concerns about confidentiality or competitiveness. You can gain a totally different perspective and access to new ways of thinking.
  • Mentoring can enable you to carve out the time and space you need to challenge your thinking and be the business leader you want to become.

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.*

Women call

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.

Get involved

We appreciate that as business owners, your work will be a priority. This said, we ask that mentees and mentors have regular contact with each other - at minimum once a month. This can be face to face or via video call tools like Skype.

From the outset, the mentoring pairing will jointly identify business objectives and the support required. Using the materials and framework provided by Santander and Women Ahead, they’ll work together to establish areas of development to enable and foster business growth and professional development. 

Apply to be mentored

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 customer

Apply to become a mentor

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

When will I know if my application has been successful? 

Successful applicants will be notified by the end of October. If you’re successful, you’ll be expected to join the launch webinar on Wednesday, 7 November 2018.  

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

women ahead logo

What is Women Ahead?

Women Ahead is the 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. Moving Ahead runs the world's largest cross-company mentoring scheme on behalf of the 30% Club. This award-winning scheme currently supports 1,972 mentors and mentees from over 100 organisations.

*Source: https://gender.bitc.org.uk/all-resources/factsheets/women-and-work-facts

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