Lucille joined our Mentoring Women in Business programme as a mentee in 2014, matched with mentor Mirela. After graduating from the programme, they reflect on their journey together.
South Africa and Bulgaria
Lucille is the perfect mentee for me!
Lucille worked in marketing for nearly ten years before launching her own marketing consultancy in 2006. However, when her husband’s job situation changed in 2008, they started looking for new ways to earn a stable income. Inspired by a visit to a tourist site near Johannesburg, Lucille realised that she would love to share her beautiful country with others so, together with her husband, she decided to launch Cresco Tours, a boutique tour company that offers customised guided tours and tour packages in South Africa.
As Lucille focused on learning about a new industry and building the company’s profile, she relied on her consulting company to fund the start-up costs. She worked towards gaining a range of tour guide certifications and building her client base, which eventually enabled her to focus full-time on her tour company.
By 2014, her business was expanding and although Lucille was happy to be turning a profit, she found it difficult to sustain the company’s growth. Tourism to South Africa had dropped as stricter visa controls were introduced, and the following year, the Ebola crisis led to widespread fear and cancellations, which directly impacted Lucille’s sales.
When Lucille joined the Mentoring Women in Business Programme in November 2014, she hoped to work through these challenges and set out ways to expand her client base and enter international markets. Since then, Lucille has completed two years in the programme, working most recently with Mirela Hristova, an entrepreneur from Bulgaria who runs a publishing company, AMAT-AH Publishing, and has experience in business planning, marketing and sales.
Lucille and Mirela discussed the ups and downs in business, and looked at ways that Lucille could rebound from the setbacks she had faced. With Mirela’s support, Lucille brokered new partnerships with tour operators across South Africa, enabling her to diversify her tour packages and offer more bespoke options such as an art lovers’ tour. In addition, Mirela helped to connect Lucille to the tourism industry in Bulgaria and successfully position Cresco Tours as an international tour company. To increase the company’s visibility and attract new clients, Lucille also launched a new website and Facebook page.
Over the last two years, Lucille has turned her business around and is busier than ever: her bookings have doubled and her income has increased by 200%. Lucille is now looking to hire an employee and feels much more confident both in herself and in the future of her business.
Lucille said that Mirela is so passionate about her mentoring role and is “a bundle of joy who lifts you up”. She believes that mentoring has helped her take time for herself, focus on her priorities and stay motivated and positive even when things are tough.
Mirela said that she has learned from Lucille and expanded her skill set. The relationship has helped her to think outside of the box and increase her networks. Gaining a lifelong friend, Mirela said, “Lucille is the perfect mentee for me!”
To find out more about Lucille’s company, please visit: www.crescotours.co.za
Find out more about our global Mentoring programme
Mentoring Women in Business is one of the Foundation's three flagship programmes. We pair businesspeople everywhere as mentors with women entrepreneurs in low and middle income countries as mentees for an incredibly rich, personalised, cross-border, online experience. This is transformative for mentees and mentors alike—and their companies.
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