“When you combine mentoring with technology, there are suddenly no barriers. We come together as equals.”
Over the past three years, we’ve built a model that approaches mentoring as a supportive and inspirational relationship based on trust and mutual respect, with benefits and learning accruing to both mentees and mentors. Our mentees are woman entrepreneurs who are seeking to build their businesses, skills, networks and confidence with the support of an accomplished expert or practitioner. The mentors who join our programme are skilled professionals or entrepreneurs who offer support and guidance.
Since 2010, we have been building and refining our model using mentoring best practices, a pilot study, formal evaluations and feedback from women entrepreneurs, mentors, an international steering committee and local partners.
We base our approach on research by Professor David Clutterbuck. Our concept of mentoring is a two-way process where learning is a key outcome for both mentors and mentees. This method empowers the mentees to define the parameters of the mentoring relationship while encouraging mentors to exercise self-awareness and humility.
We have tested our programme structure thoroughly, from the duration of mentoring relationships to how best to conduct virtual meetings to building a supportive online community. We’ve consulted mentoring and e-learning experts and are finding innovative ways to support women entrepreneurs and break new ground in the online mentoring field.
Mentees and mentors meet using Google Hangouts, Gtalk, Skype or other web-based tools. They keep in regular contact over email and work together on goals that are tailored to the mentee’s needs and the mentor’s experience and expertise.
We’ve found that impact is best maximised when mentees and mentors meet online at least two hours a month for one year. We encourage programme participants to find a mutually-convenient schedule for their meetings that is responsive to their goals and
Our customised platform makes it possible for participants to build trust across thousands of miles. Women entrepreneurs and their mentors can see each other, speak openly, share documents and work closely together over the internet. Because everything is done online, mentees and mentors have greater flexibility and freedom with their meetings, and often report that they are better able to take chances and give honest feedback.
Visit our impact wall to hear from our mentees and mentors about what mentoring means to them.