Mentoring from the UK to the Dominican Republic: A Two-Way Street (Part I of II)
This is the first of a two-part blog series, written by Estefany Marte, mentee with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.
My name is Estefany and I’m an entrepreneur from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. My business is dedicated to processing tropical fruits to make natural fruit purees, which I sell to the food service industry for their juices, cocktails, desserts and, well, anything they want with natural fruits.
I went into the fruit business because I grew up in it, fell in love with it and had the opportunity to take it over from my father. The fruit industry is not famous for being frequented by women entrepreneurs, so it was a challenge to win respect from my suppliers and staff, especially since they had been working with a man for the past 30 years. I had to learn a lot from them, study the market, learn the industry and gain their trust and respect with my hard work and dedication.
I would like to say I started the Cherie Blair Foundation’s Mentoring Programme with strong marketing skills. But it was the complete opposite. Truth is, I needed serious support with marketing and branding, and this is where my mentor, a communications expert from the UK named Lucy, came in.
I first thought that I wanted to focus on marketing so I could export, but it took me some time to realise that my main goals were in other areas. I used the programme and my mentor to organise the ideas in my head. When I sat down and outlined what I wanted for my business, then I started moving forward with a steady pace and everything I did was focused on my objectives. Once I decided what I wanted, I could use Lucy’s support to the fullest: planning, making timelines and action plans, discussing strategies and more.
After I started with Lucy, I began to understand how clients see things, to put myself in their shoes and to present information in an attractive way. I learned to live and breathe my company’s values and to represent them in my day-to-day life and my strategies. I have since gained new clients and I feel more comfortable speaking to potential ones. I have also hired new employees (30% more). They are all women because of a social responsibility decision we made this year.
My mentorship has meant direct growth to my business and myself. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone and I have learned so much, discovered new skills and encouraged myself to open my mind to new possibilities.
Lucy says she feels inspired too by our mentoring relationship. We make things a two-way street, so I know about her job and when she goes on vacations or business trips. I’m sure she has learned about patience because it took me some time to realise what I truly wanted, but she was so supportive and patient the entire time.