Empowering Women Entrepreneurs
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
To mark Global Entrepreneurship Week 2016, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women is celebrating inspiring and ambitious women entrepreneurs around the world.
This is the story of Nina in India. She is one of over 2,000 women entrepreneurs who have been part of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s Mentoring Women in Business Programme.
Nina and her husband run a company called Fresh Express Logistics, which exports locally-harvested grapes to Europe. As Nina lives in a drought-prone region of India, she is also working to collect, store and use rainwater and encourage her fellow farmers to take up responsible farming and water use practices. Nina was facing challenges with marketing her products and handling clients. She joined the Foundation’s Mentoring Programme to gain support in these areas.
Nina was matched with Tracy, a research analyst and knowledge manager in Marsh & McLennan Companies’ risk management practice, based in the UK. The pair worked together to create an expansion strategy to help Nina widen her export base. As a result, Nina began exporting her products to the Balkans and started exploring opportunities in the UK, Ireland and Baltic region. Nina was often hesitant to make tough decisions, so Tracy also supported her to build her confidence in this area. As a result of securing new clients and accessing new markets, Nina’s revenue grew by over 30% during her year in the programme and she was able to hire two new employees.
Nina said that Tracy helped her think more objectively about her business. She also gained confidence to make tough decisions, such as letting go of one customer whose business was proving unprofitable. She said, “Tracy has always been very encouraging and supportive. She asks all the right questions which get me thinking.” Since finishing the programme, Nina has established an association of 25 local farmers and works with them to export their goods. She is also supporting 15-20 local women to get involved in farming.
Tracy also found great value in her mentoring experience and said she took away as much from their meetings as Nina did, especially conversations they had around making better-informed, pragmatic decisions. She said, “Nina’s determination, commitment and pro-activeness has been inspiring. Participating in the programme has also been a timely reminder to step back and look at my own role and development.”