The Power of Mentoring for Women's Economic Empowerment

Photo credit: Suzanne Lee


Gina is a mentee from the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women Mentoring Women in Business Programme. The programme uses technology to offer cross-border support, connecting women entrepreneurs in developing and emerging economies with men and women mentors from around the world. This is her story.

Gina runs an online jewellery boutique called Exotic Borneo Treasures, which sells handmade indigenous products from Malaysia. With a background in education, Gina had visited rural villages and realised that many children were out of school because their mothers couldn’t afford their school fees. She decided to create an online platform where these women could sell their products and earn money to support their families. However, without business skills or IT experience, she didn’t know where to start. Through a partnership between the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and Qualcomm Wireless Reach, Gina received intensive training on business, ICT and English skills.

Gina was matched with a mentor, Anette, who was an entrepreneur from Sweden. Anette founded her own management company and had significant expertise in business planning, IT and communications. Together, Gina and Anette wrote a business plan and strategised the most effective way to market Gina’s business. With Anette’s support, Gina developed the design and content of her new website. Using resources from the programme’s online library, Gina also worked on her branding, created a marketing plan and launched social media accounts.

Throughout the year, Anette encouraged Gina to further empower the artisans she was working with by involving them in the development of the business. This not only developed the women’s skills, but also helped Gina balance her workload and build her management skills. Over the course of the year, Gina successfully launched her business and started to turn a small profit. She gained over 100 customers and sold products both domestically and internationally to the United States and Australia. Gina is currently working with 20 indigenous women and hopes to expand this number as profits increase.

Gina attributes her success to Anette’s patience and support. She believes the biggest change has been the development of her leadership, communication and teamwork skills, which have helped create a collaborative work environment. She also commented “the most valuable thing was the relationship we built; it has set me up for building other relationships in the future.”

Anette said she built her communication skills and was inspired by Gina’s passion. She told us “it’s one thing to give advice to someone else, but then you have to think about what you do. I learned from Gina’s responses – they made me think more strategically”.

Gina told her story as part of an independent evaluation into the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women mentoring programme. You can read the evaluation report in full here. Findings show that 96% of mentees reported gaining confidence, and 92% of mentees reported gaining skills that helped them in their businesses. The mentoring initiative also helped to boost business performance, with 76% of mentees reporting an increase in revenue. The report also highlighted that mentees frequently went on to share their knowledge, with 80% of mentees reporting that they had passed along what they had learned to others in their communities, and 50% of mentees going on to mentor others.

Photographer & Videographer Credit: Suzanne Lee

Sponsor:

Cherie Blair Foundation for Women
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  • Moudy Mugadzaweta
    Thanks Gina for sharing your experiences. I also believe mentorship is key in the success of women's economic empowerment. I also think its crucial that all those offering mentoring programs take time to reflect on how effectve the program is, as there is a lot that can be learnt from both mentor and mentee which can be used to better improve any mentoring initiative. 
  • Solika Akter
    Best of luck to the women like Gina who are approaching with their passion 
  • Uzoma Katchy
    This is good.  I am a recipient of  Cherie Blair  Foundation for  women, in Financial Literacy. The information accessed has tremendously helped me in economic activities. 
    Good one.
  • Cynthia Etonge
    This is so beautiful. Thanks for sharing
  • Zanele Xaba
    Wow, I strongly believe in Mentorship.

    As a mantee and a mentor , I have learnt a lot from  my mentor and my mantees.
    The knowledge received from my mentor I transfer to my mantees, in this way I see empowerment.

    Thank you for sharing !!
  • Dr Rejoice Shumba
    Thanks. This is a powerful demonstration of how mentoring can make a huge impact in women's lives. 
  • Moureen Njule Eseme
    Wonderful! Women need to come together and empower other women
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