Aspiring entrepreneur, Jessica Fleischer, has won £1000 in the NatWest Her Biz Women’s Start-Up Programme in Hastings.

The prize will go towards start-up costs for Jessica’s new business venture, Fighting Fit Food, which sells nutritional meals to gym-goers, kick-boxers, martial arts fighters and people looking to live a healthier lifestyle.

NatWest and Let’s Do Business Group teamed up to deliver the Her Biz start-up programme in June, as part of a series of free courses running across East Sussex and Kent. Her Biz is tailored specifically for women with the aim to address the entrepreneurial gender gap, evident by recent news that even though the UK is the start-up capital of Europe, only one in three UK entrepreneurs is female.

The sell-out programme, which runs again in Hastings in October, attracted over 60 applicants with a final group selected of 14 talented, like-minded women who came together to build on their entrepreneurial skills and confidence to create clear, strategic business plans, and benefit from one-to-one mentoring delivered by an experienced team of business specialists.

Workshops included sessions in marketing, PR, and finance with inspirational talks from guest speakers including Sarah Jones, Director and Founder of Wilderness PR and Sarah Richard, founder of Girls That Scuba, the world’s largest online scuba-dive community, based in Hastings.

Jessica Fleischer added: “Her Biz has given me the encouragement and motivation to take my business to the next step. Each session was engaging and gave me an insight into what it really takes to be a business owner. I’ve come away with a winning business plan that has made me very excited for the future ahead.”

Alison Rose, CEO of NatWest Commercial and Private Banking and author of The Rose Review of Female Entreprenurship, stated, “It’s clear that tailored support from specialists who understand the different challenges that female business owners face, as well as the way they think and run their business, makes a real difference to success rates.”

Helena Joyce, Her Biz Mentor and Programme Leader, commented:

“Workshops like Her Biz are key to overcoming barriers faced by women in business, and it has been a pleasure to work with such an inspiring group of people. An increase in business support could not only see financial growth for the economy but change the lives of many aspiring female entrepreneurs.”

She added, “All of the programme’s contenders have potential to develop successful businesses and we will continue to support everyone who participated – we’re excited to find out how they take their business ideas to the next level.”

Her Biz candidate, mum-of-two Chloe Thomas, has the ambition of opening up a local children’s café. She said, “I found the guest speakers really inspiring, and the course enabled me to learn more about the financial side of starting a business. Most importantly, it’s given me the confidence to believe my idea could become a reality”

So far, NatWest and Let’s Do Business Group have delivered two highly popular Her Biz programmes in Maidstone and Hastings, with the next courses taking place in Folkestone, Margate and returning to Hastings in Autumn 2019.

Expressions of interest are open for Folkestone and Hastings workshops.

Email bethany.arnold@ldbgroup.co.uk for details.