Gaukhar, from Kazakhstan, was a mentee on the Mentoring Women in Business Programme from March 2019 to March 2020. She told us about the impact working with her mentor Latitia has had on her and her business.
In partnership with her husband, Gaukhar runs a business that specialises in sewing and manufacturing bed linen for export. Gaukhar took over ownership of the business in 2010 from her parents, when it was a sewing factory making military uniforms by state order. At that time, the business relied on one customer, and she was never aware in advance if she would get any additional orders for the coming year, which left her unable to project the business’ income.
The key challenge Gaukhar faced was that the main customers of her sewing factory was the State and the quasi-public sector. To help expand her business, Gaukhar had to develop into other areas of production and search for a new market. To build the skills and knowledge to do this and move her business forward, she decided to apply to the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s Mentoring Women in Business Programme.
Gaukhar applied to the programme intending to work with a mentor to develop her business operations and marketing, and was keen to work with a mentor with retail sales experience. The Foundation was able to match Gaukhar with Latitia, Head of Digital and Strategic Partnerships for a jewellery boutique based in the United Kingdom. Latitia’s experience in marketing and sales made her a great match for Gaukhar, who wanted to up skill herself in these areas, in order to develop her business and take it to the next level.
During their regular, one-to-one mentoring sessions, Latitia supported Gaukhar by helping her focus on her main objective of entering the Russian market. The pair worked together on a SWOT Analysis of the business and conducted market research, which helped Gaukhar develop a plan to achieve her main objective. The research that Gaukhar conducted was done mainly online, but she also took the opportunity to visit Russian competitor stores in person as a mystery shopper. Having laid the groundwork to understand the target market, Gaukhar was able to confidently approach Russian retailers armed with her new business proposal. With her new approach, Gaukhar successfully managed to sign a contract, with one of the Russian retailers to sell her bed linen products through e-commerce: a massive achievement for her business!
Gaukhar maintains that her mentor played a key role in helping her to become more ingenious with her marketing tactics. With her mentor’s guidance, she learnt how to use social media to communicate to her existing customers and deepen their loyalty to her business, as well as using it as a tool of advertisement to attract a wider customer base. Before taking part in the programme, Gaukhar focused solely on attracting new customers and did not pay sufficient attention to converting existing customers into returning ones. With her new-found social media skills, she can now connect with her loyal customers to build her brand, increase sales and collect analytic data to further develop her marketing approach.
Gaukhar also stated that being on the Mentoring Women in Business Programme has lent sophistication to her marketing approach and grown her confidence in understanding her target market. She is more assertive in her marketing tactics in line with her target market. An additional but very welcome result: Gaukhar and Latitia began their relationship as mentee and mentor, but now they are friends and have stayed in contact after their mentoring year ended.
On her time working with Gaukhar, Latitia shared that the pair had great chemistry and Gaukhar was very open-minded and willing to try new things: “[Gaukhar] tried a new approach on CRM and marketing strategies that I suggested and learned about how to do business in a different B2B environment. Personally, we have built a trusted and great relationship that I believe I will carry forward”. Latitia also stated that mentoring has been an inspiring process for her, and she will continue to participate in the programme in the future as she enjoys it greatly.
Click here for more information on our Mentoring Women in Business programme. You can help empower over 100,000 more women like Gaukhar to create better futures for themselves, their families, their communities and the world by supporting our 100,000 Women Campaign.