Five years. Over 4,000 mentees and mentors. More than 90 countries. Countless stories of inspiration and achievement.
This is what we are celebrating today, on the fifth anniversary of the launch of our Mentoring Women in Business Programme.
It all began with a belief in the power of mentoring and a passion for technology. By forging these two elements together, we knew we could pioneer a new way to support women entrepreneurs around the world.
Cross-border, online mentoring for women entrepreneurs was a new concept when we started out, so we were careful to test our model thoroughly before breaking new ground. Since then we have continued to learn, constantly refining our model in response to feedback from our mentees, mentors, partners, and experts.
Over the last five years, we’ve welcomed women entrepreneurs from almost one hundred countries, from Thailand, Tanzania and Togo to Namibia, Nepal and Nicaragua. Harnessing the power of technology, we’ve created incredible partnerships, linking mentees with mentors who are sometimes quite literally at opposite ends of the earth. We’ve matched a home-based tailor in Malaysia with a university professor in Lebanon, a textile designer in Rwanda with a banking executive in the U.S., and a grape exporter in India with a research analyst in the UK.
The women we work with are pioneering, driven entrepreneurs. They have created businesses in every sector imaginable, including hospitality, electronics, retail, education, health, renewable energy, textiles, and agriculture – to name just a few. Some women are in the early stages of their entrepreneurial journey; others have been working for years. Their businesses often play a crucial role in filling gaps in their communities, offering vital services, creating jobs, and tackling difficult social problems. These women have an enormous wealth of ideas, experience, and passion to share.
The Mentoring Women in Business Programme was built on the belief that community is a powerful force for change. To supplement the one-on-one mentoring relationships, we also developed a bespoke online platform that houses a vast range of resources and opportunities for exchange. Through this platform, women entrepreneurs across the globe share challenges, experiences, encouragement, and advice. It’s amazing to witness the conversations that unfold in our online forums on a daily basis. I remember one mentee from Tanzania who asked for advice on a presentation that she was due to make to a potential funder. Within a matter of hours, she had feedback from mentees and mentors from Kenya, Spain, Australia, and many more.
The success of our programme is driven by people: from the women entrepreneurs who join us as mentees to the dedicated men and women who come on board as mentors, to our local partners who nominate exceptional mentees to join the programme, our corporate partners who offer the mentoring opportunity to their employees, and our team who has worked tirelessly to build our model from scratch.
This programme is made possible by these people who generously share their time, expertise, energy, and ideas to help someone in another part of the world. There is tremendous power in the impact of this support. Our recent evaluation report proved this, finding that the programme delivered enormous benefits to both mentees and mentors.
Today we celebrate and thank the 4,000 mentees and mentors who have given so much of themselves to bring our community and programme to life.