Yolanda and Ivette’s story: working together for mutual benefits
Yolanda Odida is the founder of Pure Purple in Nairobi, Kenya. She was matched with her mentor, DHL's Ivette Townshend, for a year of collaboration.
Nairobi, Kenya and Panamá, Panama
Yolanda Odida is the founder of Pure Purple in Nairobi, Kenya. Her business makes beautiful shoes and accessories from locally sourced leather. Being mentored by DHL Express’ Ivette Townshend, based in Panama, through our Mentoring Women in Business programme meant a year of collaboration and professional development, with brilliant outcomes for Yolanda and Ivette alike.
“My name is Yolanda Odida and I’m the founder of Pure Purple, a contemporary footwear and accessories brand. We use locally sourced leather, which is great for boosting sustainability and community. I’m building something that’s impactful. It’s important to me that people are benefiting from our work and that we are not hurting the earth whilst we are here.
Something I found surprising about the mentoring journey was that I was matched with someone in a very different industry with a very different career, but it was a perfect match.
It's not that the mentor is just pouring out onto the mentee. There’s a really healthy exchange that happens on both sides that's absolutely beautiful and astounding.
My mentor was Ivette. She works for DHL in South America and has a career that spans over 20 years. Since she works in the digital space, she was able to support me in using digital to export my products.
In certain areas, I was also mentoring her. It’s not that the mentor is just pouring out onto the mentee. There’s a really healthy exchange that happens on both sides that’s absolutely beautiful and astounding.
Ivette was a breath of fresh air. I felt like I had a cheerleader. We wouldn’t just sit down and talk about my career and my goals. She took a holistic approach, like “What’s happening with your health? Are you sleeping enough?” These are key pillars that are easily missed. It’s common to borrow from your sleep or your health to take care of your business. We set goals in all of those facets, and she would check in on all of it. I really liked that, because I have to be whole to go out and do the things that I need to do.
We focus on sustainable interventions like recycling and upcycling as much as we can. Those things are important to us.
I’m now taking a more holistic view of over myself. I’m watching to make sure I don’t burn out. I’m making sure I live a more balanced life and that I’m not solely focused on entrepreneurship, even though it can be hard to do.
My business’ success enables us to fulfil our mission. For us, that means increasing the amount of leather that is retained within the country, creating jobs that pay fair wages, and creating wealth. There’s wealth creation across the value chain, so everybody who is in our ecosystem benefits.
We are also continuing to take care of the earth. We focus on sustainable interventions like recycling and upcycling as much as we can. Those things are important to us.
Our success will show women in other businesses that it can be done. You can have a successful business coming out of Africa that serves the people. That’s what success looks like to us.
I think mentoring is beneficial for women entrepreneurs because to take any journey, you need a guide. You go faster if you have a guide. Mentoring gives you that person who’s gone ahead of you, who can hold your hand and say “Watch out for that!” Then you can do the same for the women who come after you.”
Mentoring gives you that person who's gone ahead of you, who can hold your hand and say “Watch out for that!” Then you can do the same for the women who come after you.
“I joined the Mentoring Women in Business programme because I had the chance to participate in an internal DHL programme called Shift Up a Gear for Women. What they do is they help women progress in leadership roles. So, when I heard about the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s programme, I said, “This is a time that I can also give back what I have been receiving”.
It has been a life changing experience, mentoring someone from abroad. My relationship with Yolanda was great. It was collaborative. It was constructive. We had an open communication based in trust. We also both have a high commitment to grow professionally and personally. It was a very nice experience.
It has been a life changing experience, mentoring someone from abroad.
To anyone who might be considering becoming a mentor, don't think it too much. Join the programme. You will gain a lot from the experience and it is something you will value for the rest of your life.
Starting out, I needed to understand her aspirations, her strengths, her skills, and where she wanted to go. We then created an actionable plan for her to break down her goals and work on them. We also had calls and review meetings just to check in on how she was doing.
Working with Yolanda was an eye-opening experience because every time we were talking, she usually found the answers by herself. I think she understood how valuable she was and how much potential she had within herself. I learned that sometimes you just need someone accompanying you. You need someone who will listen to you so that you can see clearly and gain confidence.
To anyone who might be considering becoming a mentor, don’t think it too much. Join the programme. You will gain a lot from the experience and it is something you will value for the rest of your life.”