We’ve all recently been celebrating International Women’s Day which focuses on the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

According to a recent report by Female Entrepreneurs, a quarter of the UK’s high-growth companies boast a female founder but just 9% of money invested into businesses last year went to female-founded firms.

Santander recently launched its largest ever programme to support aspiring female entrepreneurs with a successful business owning mentor.

iCaaS CEO Nicola Hartland has been chosen as a mentor in the 2020 Santander Breakthrough Women Business Leaders’ Mentoring Programme.

The scheme is designed for the ‘next generation of fast-growth female entrepreneurs‘ who will be matched with someone from a different sector, to support them as they consider the next stage of their business and professional growth.

Mentoring schemes are now seen as a vital weapon in tackling this gender divide and providing female entrepreneurs with access to the resources and tools to buck the trend with 81% of 11-18-year olds unable to name a single female entrepreneur, according to new research from Santander.

These schemes help strive for a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

The study also found that children today are nearly four times more likely to think of a man than a woman when they hear the word ‘entrepreneur’ (37% vs. 10%).

Worryingly, Santander’s research revealed seven out of ten children claim they have never been encouraged to consider entrepreneurship as a career choice at school.

Louise Robinson, Head of Breakthrough, Santander UK, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have the CEO of iCaaS, Nicola Hartland, join Santander UK’s Women Business Leaders mentoring programme. The scheme allows female business owners access to guidance from business professionals.

“A business mentor is someone with more entrepreneurial business experience than you who serves as a trusted confidante over an extended period of time and is someone who can share their wisdom on an ongoing basis, and in a manner that can have a direct, positive impact on the growth of your business over time.

“A business mentor provides invaluable support to small business owners and can help to work through issues, discuss opportunities, develop links and a support network with other entrepreneurs which can be hugely valuable and have a direct, positive impact on the growth of your business over time. “Nicola has a phenomenal reputation within the business community and will be a positive role model to the next generation of fast-growth female entrepreneurs.”

Hartland added: “Being chosen for the Santander Mentoring Programme is a huge honour. Mentoring is incredibly important for female small business owners as one of the strongest factors for success is about being resilient, being able to take considered risks and learn quickly when things don’t quite go the way you expected.

“This programme helps the mentees discuss opportunities, work through issues, develop links and have access to a support network with other entrepreneurs.

‘It’s important that these budding female entrepreneurs have access to regular guidance from business professionals like myself who have tried and tested methods of running successful businesses.


Hartland, 39, grew up in Scotland and knew from an early age that she wanted to start her own business. She headed sales for a large technology company before realising that she had the talent and drive to be in charge of her own operation.

Hartland says: “When I started my own business, there was just nothing available on the market to help me with data security and compliance. There wasn’t a company offering a quick and easy solution to help my business comply with the new rules. “So, I set about finding my own solution to the problem. I raised more than £1.5million worth of investment from a range of backers, whilst maintaining a majority share and in two years developed one of the most disruptive pieces of software on the market. And so iCaaS was launched.”

iCaaS is an advanced cloud-based GDPR solution to strengthen data compliance. It builds trust and protects client reputation. Comprehensive online awareness training is available to ensure responsible data handling practices supported by simple, easy to use software. iCaaS helps businesses achieve, manage and maintain full data compliance and the intuitive software helps save time and money whilst instilling confidence within the customer base that they are being responsible with their data.

Hartland added: “We have done all the hard work and created software that is accessible and affordable, while our team of experts are on top of ever-changing legislation so that our clients can continue to achieve full compliance.”

iCaaS has made such an impact on the software solution market that it has secured several high-calibre partners including Nominet, My PT Hub, IRIS, ICPA and even Santander itself

Her business partner and iCaaS chairman is Kevin Gaskell, a serial entrepreneur who managed the turnaround of Porsche from close to bankruptcy. He and Hartland set about making sure the software was the best available on the market.

Hartland has been recognised for her business excellence and leadership, winning the Role Model Award at the Woman in Business Awards, while also being selected as a finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year and Businessperson of the Year.

For further details on Data Security and Compliance, go to: www.myicaas.com