Thu Zar’s story
Lan was a mentee on the Mentoring Women in Business programme between 2018-2019.
Thu Zar is a graduate of our Mentoring Women in Business Programme, who started her mentoring year in November 2018. Here’s an overview of her experiences as a mentee, and what sort of impact the programme had on her and her business.
Thu Zar Win Thu, a businesswoman from Myanmar, is the founder and president of OHIO Myanmar International, a business that provides education services for youths in Myanmar, such as IT and engineering training, a Japanese language course and overseas employment services. As an engineer, she was inspired to launch a business that will train more youths for employment within her country and overseas.
Thu Zar faced challenges as a leader because she was unable to manage her employees effectively, and was experiencing financial problems as well. She was not confident in herself to run and manage her business well. As a result, Thu Zar was encouraged by one of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s local partners in Myanmar to apply for the Mentoring Women in Business Programme as a mentee. When she applied, Thu Zar did not comprehend yet that having a mentor would be such a change in direction for her!
The Foundation matched Thu Zar with Salam, a Sustainable Business Consultant based in Mauritius, and they worked together for one fruitful year. Salam’s expertise in business strategy, marketing, branding, communication and product development, made him a great strategic match for Thu Zar and her needs.
This mentoring programme is the best treasure of life for me because I have improved my business and I obtained foreign investment.
When Thu Zar joined the programme, she was struggling with her business and she informed her mentor that she wanted to give up. Thu Zar was encouraged by Salam to continue with her business, advising her that “each problem has a solution and she should not be disappointed as she has been selected to be on the Mentoring Programme where she has a chance to improve her business flaws”. With this newly instilled motivation, Thu Zar and Salam went on to build a strong mentoring relationship. Together the pair worked on creating a new business plan, developing a business model to focus on business-to-business distribution, and finding investors. The pair then began to determine the gaps in the market, discussing marketing tactics and effective pitching techniques for investors.
Halfway through the programme, with a stronger understanding of her new business strategy, Thu Zar went on a business trip to Japan. While there, Thu Zar managed to pitch her business plan to Japanese investors who were interested in Myanmar’s labour contract. As Thu Zar’s business proposal aimed to train youths for overseas employment, the investors were sold on her proposal and decided to invest in her business.
Because of working with Salam, Thu Zar was able to attract more customers and her revenue increased massively. She also managed to hire ten new employees, seven of whom work full-time. She now feels more confident in her ability to manage her team effectively.
We managed to get through some of the main issues facing Thu Zar’s business.
Thu Zar’s reflections
Thu Zar says that she has improved her leadership and decision making skills. She also recognises that she has gained more confidence in herself and her business with the help of her mentor. She said, “This mentoring programme is the best treasure of life for me because I have improved my business and I obtained foreign investment”.
On his time working with Thu Zar, Salam shared that he admired his mentee’s determination and felt that, through their mentoring relationship, “they managed to get through some of the main issues facing Thu Zar’s business”. Salam also reported that being a mentor not only helped him to improve his confidence in assisting a start-up in a new segment and new market but also reminded him the importance of impacting someone’s life positively.
Thu Zar maintains that being part of the Mentoring Women in Business Programme has helped her grow as a business leader and has shared her experience with her friends in Myanmar to inspire them to join 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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