Ulster Bank has partnered with three organisations to champion diverse entrepreneurship across Northern Ireland.
ArtsEkta, One in Five, and Enterprise Northern Ireland, have each been awarded funding through Ulster Bank’s Enterprise Fund to support projects aimed at promoting and encouraging entrepreneurship, particularly amongst those typically underrepresented in this space.
As part of Ulster Bank’s purpose-led strategy to encourage entrepreneurship, the new partnerships also align with the bank’s commitment to increase representation for females and ethnic minorities so as to reduce any inequalities these groups may face.
Each of the three successful organisations will put this grant money towards delivering fully-funded programmes for new and potential entrepreneurs who have ambitions to start or grow a business. ArtsEkta, has put together an entrepreneur development programme designed to create inclusion for diverse ethnic minority entrepreneurs right at the beginning of their business journey. The aim is to help fulfil the skills gap which will, in turn, see an increase in diverse community startups and growth for pre-existing businesses.
Enterprise Northern Ireland is focusing on creating more engagement with women to build their awareness of the opportunities presented by self-employment and strengthen their capabilities and confidence to start or grow their own business. And local entrepreneur and founder of the One in Five group, Chris Lynch, has set out to create a dedicated platform of disabled-led content online. His hope is that the programme and collaboration with Ulster Bank will lead to a new wave of content creators and develop a newly empowered, high-skilled group of entrepreneurs.
Established in 2019, the Ulster Bank Enterprise Fund was created to address some of the issues highlighted in the Rose Review into female entrepreneurship. The government-backed report found that access to finance was the number one barrier preventing women and entrepreneurs from ethnic minorities from business ownership. To date Ulster bank has provided over £215,000 through the fund to 12 social enterprises, charities and educational organisations. These groups have gone on to support around 1,600 people, creating around 100 new jobs and an additional 84 businesses. Previous recipients of the fund include Ulster University, Belfast Multicultural Association and AwakenHub.
John Ferris, Regional Ecosystem Manager with Ulster Bank, said that making this funding available to entrepreneurs was a key part of the bank’s enterprise ambition.
“To date the enterprise fund has supported around 1,600 individuals or businesses through targeted programmes with our partners and we’re proud of the work done to date in reaching underrepresented entrepreneurs including women and those from ethnic minority backgrounds.
“Our goal is to continue to be a champion for diverse entrepreneurship and we hope that by working in close collaboration with our three new partners we can deliver more opportunities for entrepreneurs, create jobs and drive for further investment. We are excited to work with these organisations during the next 12 months and look forward to seeing the positive impact this work can make.”
For more information about Ulster Bank’s support for entrepreneurship or to find out about the dedicated business Accelerator programme, visit www.ulsterbank.co.uk/accelerator