From November 2018 to November 2019, Novita was a mentee on our Mentoring Women in Business Programme. Read here about her experiences and the impact the programme had on her and her business.
Novita, from Indonesia, had always been ambitious and enjoyed going to work, but when she had children she felt she was spending too much time away from them and her husband. She decided to start her own business, as that would give her more flexibility to combine work and family. In 2012, she opened an online shop that sold clothing for Muslim women. It wasn’t long before she decided to find women that were in a similar situation as she used to be, to offer them that same flexibility through employment. She hired housewives who could sew from their homes and combine that with their other domestic responsibilities.
Ever since it was set up, the business had been experiencing many ups and downs. The year before Novita applied for the Mentoring Women in Business Programme, she was even running a loss. Novita felt the responsibility she had towards the women she employed and knew she needed to find a way to improve the way she ran her business.
Through the collaboration between the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™, in November 2018, Novita was matched with Khadizat from Nigeria, the CEO of an architecture firm. She disclosed to Khadizat that her business hadn’t been doing well and that she’d always had problems finding the focus of her business, as she was used to running different clothing lines. After discussing it with her mentor, she realised that this was what made it difficult to stabilise and scale up her company, as it was costing her too much money.
With her mentor’s help, Novita was able to identify her most profitable clothing line. The pair then analysed different models for fashion brands, which made Novita realise what was special about her own. She was then able to use this in her marketing approach to increase the orders for her products. Having a clearer brand also made it possible for Novita to apply for government support, which gave more credibility to her business. Through this partnership she was able to access fashion and business courses, which included learning more about scaling up.
Additionally, Khadizat supported Novita in writing a business plan, to help her focus the business even more and improve her production. Sales was another area that Novita felt she could do better. With her mentor, she improved the main clothing line, and made more products, thus increasing the number of items sold. Novita further strengthened her links with the government, developing a partnership, which has allowed her to organise several fashion shows. This has helped her promote her products to other businesses.
After running a loss before starting the Mentoring Women in Business Programme, Novita’s business is now making a profit again. She has also found some investors, who like the social impact of her business, and are willing to help her grow her company over the next years.
Working together with her mentor has made Novita more focused in her business. She has more efficient systems and is better able to plan, feeling much more confident as a business leader. She has been able to grow her team from five housewives and three in-house staff, to fourteen housewives, five freelance sewing staff and eight in-house staff.
Click here for more information on our Mentoring Women in Business programme. You can help empower over 100,000 more women like Novita to create better futures for themselves, their families, their communities and the world by supporting our 100,000 Women Campaign.
“I loved the guidance my mentor provided; she never told me what to do but she helped me to find out things myself and really analyse what is best for my business. For me and the housewives that I employ, I want to do my best for my business and be a success. I hope to hire more housewives in the future.”