When Lyda started baking and selling Christmas cookies, she never dreamed it would grow into a successful gourmet frozen foods company. Today, her company Scatola Rossa supplies products such as desserts, Spanish tortillas and pies to three grocery store chains in Costa Rica, as well as in her own speciality store.
But Lyda’s entrepreneurial journey hasn’t always been easy. Since the company’s launch in 2006, she has faced high production costs, the loss of an important client and challenges balancing a busy family life. She joined the Mentoring Women in Business Programme in May 2015 looking for support to restructure her business, write a business plan and implement a new growth strategy.
Through a partnership with Bank of America, Lyda was matched with Kathie Rupert, a Senior Vice President and Business Executive at Bank of America in the United States. Kathie has expertise in business planning, finance and marketing, which made her a strategic match for Lyda. Bank of America has been a pivotal partner in the development of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s Mentoring Programme, which has now enabled over 2,500 women entrepreneurs to access personalised support through one-to-one mentoring and an online support and learning platform.
Together, Kathie and Lyda embarked on a comprehensive review of Lyda’s business and used their mentoring sessions to implement clear strategies to achieve her goals. With Kathie’s support, Lyda undertook an analysis of her income and expenditure and explored options to decrease major expenses. As a result, she decided to close her production plan and outsource to a local company instead. Lyda and Kathie also worked together to create a new business plan that would free up time for Lyda to focus on her business strategy and updated her website to increase her visibility and attract new clients.
Since joining the programme, Lyda’s revenue has increased by over 350%. She has opened a second store location and her company is on track to reach profitability next year. She is also a supplier to Walmart and, after much support and encouragement from Kathie to complete an application, Lyda has been accepted into one of their programmes which focuses on empowering women in their global supply chain.
Lyda said that Kathie was excellent at listening, guiding and helping to keep her accountable to both herself and her goals: “Being in a mentoring relationship is a great resource and a great opportunity. You always have issues to solve when you run a company so it is very useful have guidance to help out… My relationship with my mentor has helped in allowing me to focus on the next steps to take strategically.”
Kathie also enjoyed working with Lyda and said that it was rewarding to see her become more confident and in control of her business. The opportunity to learn about a new market gave Kathie insight into the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in another country. Inspired by Lyda’s tenacity and perseverance, Kathie is keen to stay in touch with Lyda and see what achievements are yet to come.