Ha is a graduate of our Mentoring Women in Business Programme, working together with her mentor Janet from November 2018 to November 2019. We interviewed her to learn more about her experiences as a mentee, and the impact the programme had on her and her business.
When Ha left her job as a secretary in a printing company to launch her own business, she was apprehensive because she couldn’t speak English well and feared the competition she would face from men, as there is prejudice against women in business in her country, Vietnam. Confronting these doubts, she decided to take a leap of faith in herself.
Out of a desire for independence, Ha founded her business producing handmade jewellery from natural materials like jade, wood, shell and bone. Now celebrating her company’s twentieth year, she has studied and worked at her art step-by-step to upskill and stand out, carving not just impressive and unique jewellery, but also a niche for women entrepreneurs in Ho Chi Minh.
While she had spent two decades gradually improving her carving/artistic and manufacturing skills, she identified that she lacked some of the key skills for business success which prompted her to apply to the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s Mentoring Women in Business programme as a mentee. As a result of the collaboration between the Foundation and Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™, she was matched with mentor Janet, who owns a management and corporate etiquette consultancy in Nigeria, and who was accomplished in the key areas Ha wished to focus on: business growth, capital, and marketing and communications.
One of the main barriers the programme helped Ha overcome is her ability to speak English in an entrepreneurial context. This had a knock-on effect of giving her improved confidence and patience. The work she and Janet did together allowed her to plan better, improve her business structure, and launch advertisements for her business to increase sales. While a mentee, she attended networking events and increased the number of workers in her business.
With her new business plan, Ha intends to visit the UK to attend handmade jewellery exhibitions in order to get a better idea of what she wants to make in the future. Her next ambition is to buy a warehouse for her business and the Mentoring Women in Business Programme has helped her to gain the expertise and confidence to apply for the capital she’ll need.
Thinking of her time on the Mentoring Women in Business Programme, Ha notes how effortless it was to meet up with Janet due to the technology that made it possible, and her mentor’s straightforward approach. Working with her mentor helped her to foster confidence in her own abilities.
Janet’s reflections complement this idea, noting that “as her mentor, I knew she was gaining well with her English speaking, business acumen and profitability”. Janet also commented on the mutually beneficial nature of the programme describing the experience as “an eye opener for me because it requires discipline, dedication and devotion. I am a better person with my Cherie Blair Mentoring experience.”
When Ha visits a local factory outside of Ho Chi Minh, other women who work there now reach out to her for advice and she listens to the issues they are facing. She describes that she finds that many women lack opportunities and have “difficulty translating ideas into business plans”. She is grateful that she has been able to surmount this challenge during her time on the Mentoring Women in Business Programme and looks forward to supporting other in doing the same.
Click here for more information on our Mentoring Women in Business programme. You can help empower over 100,000 more women like Ha to create better futures for themselves, their families, their communities and the world by supporting our 100,000 Women Campaign.