Wednesday 29th November 2017
On my flight home from the Summit I cracked opened the book “Create Special,” written by the founder of Entrepreneurial Spark (ESpark) business accelerators, the flagship of which we had the fortune to visit during one of Summit host NatWest’s Study Tours on the final afternoon of the Summit. The book is atypical for the genre, mapping in very simple terms the ways one needs to think and act to be more entrepreneurial. It is useful not just to business founders but to all of us who seek to make an impact on this world.
ESpark’s results may pique your interest: In 2016 alone, ESpark enabled over 1,700 start-up and scale-up businesses, over 80 percent of which are still trading. Fifty percent of the 8,000-plus entrepreneurs it has supported so far are women. And when asked by a keen GBA audience how they have achieved gender equity, they noted some strong drivers are likely a focus on the entrepreneur and not the business (which for women means building their confidence), taking on entrepreneurs no matter how early they are in their business life cycles, not being sector-specific where many accelerators remain tech heavy, and offering their services for free.
ESpark can do the latter because it is underwritten by NatWest. This makes for a very good business strategy for the bank, positioning NatWest as being totally behind entrepreneurs in the UK, while enabling the bank itself to be smarter about working with entrepreneurs and keeping on top of innovation. Indeed, NatWest’s Women in Business program encapsulates an ecosystem approach, working as they do with many strategic partners to offer value to women as customers and employees. This is captured in our latest Case Study on NatWest, published for the Summit.
The Summit, by far our most diverse to date and among our largest ever, had huge amounts of best practice sharing, reflecting our maturing as an Alliance with many excellent and deep interventions on building and maintaining value for women, summaries of which can be found here. GBA members can access all presentations in the members-only section of our website. There were many highlights, but of course the annual GBA Women’s Market Champion Awards always stand out, honoring the on-the-ground work of our members and their engagement in the GBA community. Many congratulations to all the winners.
The Policy Forum at Westminster Palace was also very special, not just because of the awesome location but because we witnessed the policymaking process in action during a working session of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women and Enterprise. A key recommendation was to set up a UK fund targeted at women entrepreneurs, leveraging lessons from the design of the US$1 billion We-Fi facility spearheaded by the World Bank.
Two other publications were also launched at the Summit. The first is a Case Study on Banco BHD León, whose work – particularly on adding value to women through product innovation – is really worth a read. The second highlights the outcomes of our Working Group on Insurance for the Women’s Market, detailing the extraordinary business results achieved by our members who offer insurance to the Women’s Market.
Thanks to all our members and non-member institutions that are considering adopting a tailored Women’s Market program for coming to the Summit to share and learn. Thanks to EBRD for hosting our Master Class on the first day of the Summit and bringing along so many of your client banks to the event. Thanks also to Summit sponsors FMO and IDRC for your support of GBA, and last but by no means least, thanks so much to NatWest for being such an excellent host and for being so great to work with. I think we really did “Create Special”!