Inspiration, insight, motivation: What I gained from mentoring
The Foundation's Director of Programmes, Emily Scott, and her mentee, Margaret, share their experiences in the Mentoring Women in Business programme.
Our Mentoring Women in Business programme matches women entrepreneur mentees with business professional mentors all over the world for a year of collaboration and personal development. No one knows mentoring better than our Director of Programmes, Emily Scott, who not only oversees the programme, but also participates as a mentor. She and her mentee, Margaret Kasande, share everything they’ve achieved together so far.
Becoming a mentor has provided the most amazing opportunity to really connect with and support women entrepreneurs. Since Covid, I have not been able to travel to see our programmes, partners and the women entrepreneurs we work with in person. Connecting with my mentee has been even more valuable as a result, because through working with her I have been able to gain an understanding of her reality running a business in Uganda. It has also been a great way for me to boost my communication, collaboration and problem-solving skills in a cross-cultural setting.
Currently, I am matched with Margaret Kasande. The two of us were matched through the programme’s unique platform via its bespoke algorithms, kicking off our year-long mentoring relationship back in May 2022. It’s like online dating for mentoring!
Margaret is passionate about business and her vision to both build in women’s income generating and basket making skills as well as preserving and promoting Uganda’s traditional basket weaving. Her passions and values are all bottled into her business, ABAMU, which provides skills training in traditional basket making and entrepreneurship, with a focus on culture preservation and the creation of market linkages, while also maintaining environmental sustainability through her products and processes. I previously worked as a volunteer business advisor for a women’s weaving association in Tanzania, so I was thrilled with my match!
Margaret is ambitious and knows exactly where she wants to go with her business. I come in to listen, challenge and encourage her. Really leaning into active listening has been essential for our work together; I support her by giving her guidance in overcoming obstacles, asking her questions, and encouraging her to unpack her business plan. I find that we’re able to tap into her power and knowledge. It’s all very much in her hands. That’s the beauty of mentoring.
I find that we’re able to tap into her power and knowledge. It’s all very much in her hands. That’s the beauty of mentoring.
Obviously, as with any partnership or relationship, there are obstacles. We both have full time jobs and families to care for. We also live in different parts of the world, so sometimes the logistics of finding a mutual time to meet up can be a little tricky. Nevertheless, we’ve always found a way to meet for at least two hours a month as the programme requires.
I’ve also had moments with imposter syndrome, especially at the beginning of the relationship, as mentoring someone felt like a massive responsibility that I worried I might not have been qualified for. Luckily, we’ve found ways to work together. I’ve become more comfortable with my role as a mentor and have come to understand that the relationship really is two-sided. Margaret supports me as well.
Margaret has acted as an inspiration to me in more ways than I would have initially expected. There have been times when I, admittedly, thought that she might have been overly ambitious in setting certain deadlines for herself. But without fail, week after week, we would meet again for her to tell me about a certain success or improvement that she had reached in her business. Being able to bear witness to how she has overcome obstacles and showed true dedication is an aspect of our relationship that I didn’t expect to gain as much from as I have.
Being able to bear witness to how she has overcome obstacles and showed true dedication is an aspect of our relationship that I didn’t expect to gain as much from as I have.
Aside from her dedication and hardworking nature, mentoring Margaret has also allowed me insight into her values, her anchored approach, and her positivity, which have admittedly become infectious. I’m continuously moved by the gratitude that she expresses toward the day-to-day, and the dedication she shows her business and family whilst staying true to her values. Watching the way that she approaches these situations has inspired and motivated me.
Working with Margaret has overall been an experience that I’ll cherish for years to come. Having the opportunity to collaborate with someone on their goals and aspirations has made me more aware of the skills and abilities I have as a mentor, a professional, and a person in general, while also re-enforcing the relevance for the work that I do and the partnerships we build at the Foundation in the pursuit of women’s economic justice. The experience has also provided a super opportunity for my own professional development too. Margaret has offered me inspiration, insight, and motivation, and I’m honoured to be a part of her journey.
If you are passionate about women’s empowerment or business, I highly recommend applying to become a mentor. Everyone has value to offer and the benefits will amaze you.
The Mentoring programme is one of the best things that happened to me last year. Having closed my business in 2018, the programme armed me with the tools and confidence to start over. Having registered the business in May 2021, I had not found the courage to start operating until I was matched with Emily.
She is amazing! She has challenged me to get out of my shell, build a team and become an assertive woman entrepreneur. We have so far made $5,848 USD worth of sales and we were finalists in the Give Work Challenge grant application.
Emily is accommodating, especially when my plate is full or I am having challenges with the internet. I was delighted to learn that we are both mothers and we have shared experiences. With her support, besides growing my business, I finally found a way to achieve a work-life balance by prioritizing and scheduling my tasks and responsibilities. That is an area that I had struggled with for years. She’s fun and tries to speak a bit of Swahili, which is endearing. I couldn’t have been matched with a better mentor. I am extremely grateful.
She has challenged me to get out of my shell, build a team and become an assertive woman entrepreneur.
Read more success stories from the mentoring programme
The Power of Mentoring: Odunayo and Mireille’s story
Odunayo joined our Mentoring Women In Business programme in 2021 and was paired with her mentor Mireille. Here, they reflect on their mentoring relationship.
Van has been both a mentee and a mentor for our Mentoring Woman in Business programme between 2014-2017.
“I would 100% recommend the programme. It’s a two way street & it’s totally beneficial for both parties”: Emily shares her experiences as one of our professional mentors.