Mentoring Women in Business: Celebrating another year of outstanding impact!

Programme Officer Toni Adebayo-Oke celebrates the Mentoring Women in Business programme’s impact throughout 2021.

Having recently joined the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women as a Mentoring Programme Officer, it has been an immense privilege to be part of the Foundation at such an exciting time!

In the gold-accredited Mentoring Women in Business programme, women entrepreneurs from low and middle income countries are matched with experienced business people. Mentoring pairs then undertake a bespoke 12 month mentoring journey; culminating in the empowerment of women entrepreneurs across the globe (so far over 100 countries have been represented!). In this blog, I’ll be sharing new figures about the impact of the Mentoring Women in Business programme in 2021.

Since the programme’s inception in 2011, thousands of women joining the programme as mentees have been positively impacted, and leave the programme with the business skills, confidence and networks needed for them to flourish in their businesses. In 2021, 192 mentees graduated from the mentoring programme. Positive outcomes from the programme encompass far more than the creation of an updated business plan, and last year 78% of mentees attested that the programme had supported them to increase their personal networks, while an incredible 68% of mentees saw an overall improvement in the performance of their business. In addition to this, 72% said that they felt an increase in confidence in relation to their abilities. Shauna Lowe, based in Jamaica, is the CEO of Jazzy’s Gifts. She can attest to the impact the programme made on her overall confidence levels, saying “The mentorship programme helped me to develop the confidence I need as a woman entrepreneur.”

The mentorship programme helped me to develop the confidence I need as a woman entrepreneur.

Shauna Lowe, CEO of Jazzy’s Gifts and mentee

Patricia Arreola, owner of ‘Esacio Bienestar’ in Mexico speaks of the impact the Mentoring Women in Business programme had on her amid the COVID-19 pandemic: “I was able to settle my business and redesign it through the pandemic months. The support from my mentor was always present. Now I have a business I can rely on. I feel confident about being able to make a living from it and being independent.”

The positive impact of the mentoring programme is felt by mentors as well as mentees. Emily Quinn, a Senior Product Manager at Thomson Reuters, testified that the programme is “a two-way street and it’s totally beneficial for both parties”. An incredible 98% of mentors reaped rewards pertaining to both their personal and professional development, whilst 90% expressed they had gained new skills which fed back into and enhanced their own work.

One mentor, Lucinda Cochrane, who is the Managing Director Compliance and Operational Risk Executive at Bank of America, told us that she was particularly inspired by her mentee. Lucinda recounted that through taking part in the programme, she “learned so much from her resilience and courage to keep her business going during the pandemic.”

While previously the opportunity to become a mentor was open solely to employees from our partner companies, in 2020, the Mentoring Women in Business team launched a new dimension to the Mentoring Programme: independent mentors. This has created a new avenue for inspiring individuals to become mentors by self-funding their place. As a result of opening up the opportunity to become an independent mentor, the number of entrepreneurs who can reap the personal and professional rewards of participating in the programme has multiplied.

Josie Jones, a UK based Diversity and Inclusion consultant for Women in Sport,  described to us last year what she is looking forward to as an independent mentor: “This mentoring programme provides me with an opportunity to give back and offer support to women who want to change their trajectory. What could be more rewarding than to be a part of that journey? In return I’m looking forward to learning more about myself; learning more about my mentee and her journey; and developing and honing my mentoring skills which to date have only been utilised by people working in similar environments to mine.”

The opportunity to become a mentor opened up still further last year. We are now offering scholarship places for women entrepreneur alumni from our programmes to become mentors. Over 25 scholarship places will be available to programme alumni in 2022; enabling 50 entrepreneurs to be positively impacted through the programme both as mentees and mentors.

Looking ahead, it’s easy to become excited about seeing how these new ways to take part in the mentoring programme develop and grow. All in all, I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what the programme will achieve in 2022! If you’d like to take part in this life-changing programme, applications to be a mentee or mentor from May 2022-May 2023 open on 7 March – register your interest today!


Note: The statistics published in this blog do not include mentees or mentors who took part in the Mentoring Women in Business programme as part of the WEAVE initiative in 2021.