Huệ, an entrepreneur and mentee from Vietnam, and her mentor Sarita, an entrepreneur from India, worked together on the Mentoring Women in Business Programme, in collaboration with Qualcomm, between November 2019 and November 2020. Following the conclusion of the programme, we caught up with them to find out about their experience.
For Huệ, it all began while on a business trip abroad working for a pet medicine company. Huệ noticed the generally increased level of grooming and cleanliness that people’s pets had in other countries, and, inspired by her own dog Kio, set up her own company to help pets in Vietnam avoid common diseases and their owners have a good time!
When her business was one year old, Huệ feared she and her business were stuck, as she had limited knowledge and experience in running a business and had noted slow growth – so she turned to the Mentoring Women in Business programme.
At this stage in her business journey, Huệ didn’t have a business plan, but she did have big aspirations for her time on the programme and beyond. By participating in the Mentoring Programme, she hoped to increase her clientele, gain more revenue for her business and to be more relaxed as a women entrepreneur. In addition to these business skills, Huệ’s priorities included distributing her product around the whole of Vietnam, setting up a spa for pets and a training school for pets and their owners. One of the ways she would reach these goals was learning how to increase her product distribution and how to market her business better.
In November 2019, the Cherie Blair Foundation paired Huệ with Sarita, a mentor from India who founded her own organisation coaching businesses. Sarita was keen to support another women entrepreneur in the areas of business growth and expansion, marketing and communications as well as confidence and leadership.
In their first meetings they got to know each other and built trust in their relationship – they talked about their backgrounds interest and families before turning to focus on how they wanted to take their relationship forward, what Huệ wanted from their year together and how they would set goals.
In addition to the help from her mentor, Huệ was able to enhance her experience by using some of the Foundation’s online learning resources like webinars to build her skills.
Halfway through the programme, Huệ was able to develop and expand her business to include areas like spa and grooming services. Sarita guided her to increase her expertise at providing pet services both offline and online. In addition, she worked on some key marketing tasks including posters, digital marketing, search engine optimisation and social media. She was also able to register her brand name formally.
By the end of the year, Huệ was setting up the spa she wanted, hiring new staff and creating a way for her business to manage its customers and membership programme. Sarita helped Huệ with her marketing skills but also taught her how to stay balanced and deal with the stress that comes with business ownership.
The COVID-19 pandemic meant that Huệ’s business resilience was vital. While the pandemic created major obstacles like disrupting her supply chain for pet shampoos, it has also meant people were spending more time at home with their pets and looking after them better. Despite a challenging year, Huệ has been able to double her income and employ more people. She has achieved her first two priorities in distributing her product around Vietnam and opening a spa. She aims to work on her third aim of opening a training school in the near future.
Huệ came to the Mentoring Women in Business Programme hoping to increase her clientele, revenue and confidence in business. By the end of a challenging year, she had achieved this and more. By diversifying her income streams increased her business’ resilience and despite some problems with supply, she’s ready to grow further when her product’s supply chains return to normal.
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