WOMEN entrepreneurs are being offered financial readiness training and other support thanks to a partnership between NatWest and Facebook's owner Meta.

NatWest, the UK's biggest business bank, has joined the social technology company to provide the support through Meta's #SheMeansBusiness programme.

The programme also provides digital skills training and opportunities to expand business connections and networks.

NatWest has ringfenced £2billion for investment in female businesses, taught entrepreneurial skills to 56,000 girls aged 16-18 and is aiming for half the spaces on its accelerator hub programme to go to women.

Meta launched #SheMeansBusiness six years ago to support women's economic empowerment. To date, the programme has supported more than 1.5million women around the world.

In a campaign which runs until May 19, NatWest and Meta are giving 50 female entrepreneurs the chance to win Meta advertising credits, as well as one-to-one digital mentoring and support to build a creative advertising campaign, as well as NatWest coaching and peer-to-peer sessions.

The support comes as NatWest and Getty Images launch a virtual gallery of pioneering female business owners from across the UK. The creation of the Female Focus collection the project is an attempt to challenge narrow views of women in business.

This is the second year of the project and the photos exhibited are of 30 competition winners from across the UK, including a martial arts business owner, a farmer and a construction company entrepreneur. Everyone can view the gallery and it will be accessible for six months.

Julie Baker, head of enterprise at NatWest Group, said: "More women than ever are starting up businesses and we must harness this potential.

"The latest Rose Review progress report showed that women are starting more businesses than ever: last year 140,000 new businesses were founded by women compared to 56,000 in 2019.

"Supporting women to build their companies is a key next step and it's great news that NatWest and Meta have partnered to offer all female entrepreneurs tuition and networking, and a lucky 50 women business owners an even bigger boost to their companies.

"We know that the images of women in business used by the media leaves much to be desired. That's why Getty Images and NatWest's project to smash stereotypes by exhibiting pictures of women in different industries is so refreshing. Get inspired and give the metaverse gallery a visit."

Carrie Timms, director of global business marketing, in Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Meta, said: "Women small business owners have fought to keep their doors open during this pandemic. We at Meta want to stand by them, which is why we're proud to partner with NatWest on this new #SheMeansBusiness programme. Whether it's help getting an ad campaign up and running, or expert advice on business finance, we hope these new offerings will help women entrepreneurs come back from the pandemic stronger than ever."

Jacqueline Bourke, head of creative insights at Getty Images, said: "We believe there is a huge opportunity to upend stereotypes around female entrepreneurship, tell stories that have not been told before and show how the power of inclusive visuals can remove barriers to entry."