Celebrating another wave of goal-reaching, barrier-breaking mentorship

This week, our latest cohort of mentors and mentees graduate from our Mentoring programme with flying colours. Our programme officer Saskia Kirby shares her reflections…

The World Economic Forum estimates that it’ll take at least 150 years to achieve economic gender equality, a number that we aim to decrease significantly by supporting women entrepreneurs to have what they need to start, sustain and grow businesses successfully.

Our gold-accredited Mentoring Women in Business programme connects women entrepreneurs in low and middle income countries with professional mentors from around the world. Over a year, they work together to problem-solve, grow and share skills, and work towards the mentee’s business goals. Supporting almost 6,000 mentees to build their businesses since launching in 2010, our programme is catalysing economic equality for women across the world.

This week, we’re celebrating the graduation of our May 2022 cohort and the fantastic things they have achieved together through a year of hard work and dedication. 99% of our 104 graduating mentees gained both professional and personal skills spanning 20 different areas, with 81% increasing their business networks and 67% able to implement new business plans or strategies already.

99% of mentees gained skills

81% of mentees grew their networks

93% of mentors gained skills

Mentees are not the only ones who benefit from our programme and the impact that mentorship can have on businesses and lives. Their mentors—many of whom are members of the workforces of our partners like PayPal, DHL Express and Bank of America—build skills and knowledge that are vital to leadership development. Overall, 98% of mentors graduating said that they would recommend the programme to others, stating that they grew cultural awareness, improved their listening skills, and grew knowledge about doing business in a new sector.

Our virtual ceremony enabled participants to reflect on the year, sharing their experiences, achievements and the benefits they received. Many mentees shared that they had been able to grow their businesses or achieve beyond what they believed possible through their mentorship. One graduating mentee from Kenya, Esther Ndekele, shared that she joined the programme having just started her business, and at that time was facing a huge number of setbacks that she wasn’t prepared to deal with. Her mentor provided her with the guidance and encouragement that she needed to stay on track. She’s now been able to increase her sales by 60% and start exporting her products to different countries, something she never thought she would be able to do.

Fade Ogunro, Chair of the Africa chapter of our global fundraising board, contributed a moving commencement speech. As the founder and CEO of BookingsAfrica.com, Fade is a woman entrepreneur herself who has dedicated her professional life to the pursuit of gender equality, opportunity and prosperity across Africa. Her words offered insight into how the sort of mentoring our programme facilitates can move mountains: “Today, you join the ranks of the countless women who have shattered ceilings, defied expectations, and achieved greatness against all odds. You are the torchbearers of change, the trailblazers who will inspire generations to come. So, step forward with confidence, courage, and compassion. Embrace the challenges, celebrate the victories, and always remember that you are not alone.”

Empowering women in entrepreneurship goes beyond just providing financial resources or training programs. It requires creating a supportive environment where women can access networks, mentors, and role models who can help them overcome obstacles.

Glory Enyinnaya, founder of Kleos Africa & graduating mentor

One graduating mentor from Nigeria, Glory Enyinnaya, founder of Kleos Africa and also an alumna of our Road to Growth programme, shared: “As a mentor, I was able to provide guidance, support, and encouragement to talented women who were determined to succeed despite the odds against them. I helped them develop their business plans, refine their marketing strategies, and navigate through various challenges.

Through this experience, I learned that empowering women in entrepreneurship goes beyond just providing financial resources or training programs. It requires creating a supportive environment where women can access networks, mentors, and role models who can help them overcome obstacles.

My time as a business mentor has taught me the importance of empowering women in entrepreneurship. It has shown me that when we invest in women’s economic potential, we are investing in a better future for everyone.”

We believe that the power of mentoring can change lives and be a catalyst for economic equality. The incredible graduates from our programme are clear evidence of that, as are our corporate partners who return year on year to make the opportunity to mentor a woman entrepreneur available to their teams.

We see mentees gain skills and confidence, grow their businesses and go on to create tangible impacts for their families and communities. Meanwhile, the leadership and communication skills and the knowledge about new cultures or industries that mentors develop help them grow and contribute even more to their own companies. Overall, the takeaway from the programme is not only the impact that mentorship has on one’s business or professional skills, but the power that connection, relationships, and community can have when aiming for an economically just world.

We won’t wait 150+ years for economic equality – will you?

Corporate Mentoring partnerships brochure

Download (PDF) (1.5MB pdf)

Take a look at our brochure, which shares full details of how our Mentoring Women in Business programme works and the benefits that it can hold for partner companies.