Celia was a mentee on the Mentoring Women in Business programme in 2016.
Celia is a mentee from our 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.
Celia, an entrepreneur from Honduras, is the founder of Inversiones Ecologicas, a company that creates products such as notebooks, gift bags and lampshades from recycled paper and agricultural waste. As a biologist, she was inspired to launch a business that increased awareness of the importance of recycling.
Celia faced challenges with quality control because her products are handmade and she did not have the machinery needed to process the paper. She also wanted to sell her products internationally, but did not have a business plan in place and her marketing plan was limited and outdated.
Celia joined our Mentoring Programme and was matched with Patricia, Managing Director at Bank of America, based in the UK. Patricia’s background in finance and marketing made her a great match for Celia and they worked together for two successful years.
Celia and Patricia built a solid budget and financial systems for Celia’s business, which enabled her to keep track of her profits and losses, reduce costs and maximise her profits. They also finalised Celia’s business plan – a huge step forward which enabled Celia to secure two grants. Patricia also supported Celia as she worked on creating a catalogue, pricing her products, looking at packaging options, negotiating deals with buyers and preparing pitches. As a result, Celia was able to attract international customers at trade fairs. During her time in the programme, Celia’s sales and revenue increased by 18% and 33%, respectively. She was also able to hire two new employees, who she is now mentoring herself.
Celia says that she has become more confident in her own abilities and her products, and is now able to see the bigger picture. She said, “Working with Patricia gave me a different perspective; as a biologist, finance is not my strong point. Patricia helped me to track the financial performance of my business. It’s great to have someone really far away, but at the same time so close, to help me with these things.” The pair are still in touch today and Celia has also worked with another mentor, Annalisa, in building her enterprise.
Patricia reported that working with Celia enabled her to develop her communication and listening skills, and learn about doing business in a different culture. She also valued the programme’s use of technology, saying, “As everything is online, you can do it at your own pace. Because I work long days, I wanted to Skype someone at home in the evening so I could give her my undivided attention.” Patricia is now taking part in her third year in the programme.
Find out more about our Mentoring Women in Business programme
Mentoring Women in Business is one of the Foundation's three flagship programmes, which also include HerVenture and the Road to Growth. The programme matches women entrepreneurs from low and middle income countries with professionals of any gender anywhere in the world.
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