“REN-CIPE is [about] teamwork, working together with a person who is blazing a trail for me to follow,” said Noeilin Escobar, mentee and owner of Velas Amazonia, “so that my journey is clearer and easier.”
Dismal statistics state that 90 percent of start-ups will fail. But mentorship can help turn such potential points for failure into opportunities for success. By identifying the toughest moments faced by aspiring and starting entrepreneurs – particularly those who are women – support can be better targeted so that such barriers can be overcome.
In a partnership with Red de Empresarias de Nicaragua (REN), CIPE accounted for the particularly difficult stages in the journey to becoming a successful women entrepreneur: transitioning from the classroom to practical experience in the workforce, moving from the informal to formal economy, getting through the first few years of operating your business, and then continuing to develop and grow your enterprise.
Through connecting a mentor with a successful business to a mentee who is just beginning her venture and a female university student studying business, CIPE and REN created a value chain of knowledge sharing.
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“When women come together in Nicaragua, we usually talk about families and communities. We never discuss about our businesses. That’s why a community like Red de Empresarias de Nicaragua (REN) is important, where women are encouraged to talk about their businesses without offending someone or thinking it’s a taboo.”
Marla Reyes Rojas, the owner of Techno Commerce Group, told me this over a cup of coffee during my recent trip to Managua. I was glad to hear first-hand how a CIPE partner is fostering a community where businesswomen, like Marla, can openly talk and build networks with other women in business.
In such an environment, it’s crucial for women in business to come together and motivate one another. That’s why for the past year, REN led a mentorship program to develop leadership and entrepreneurship skills among women in Nicaragua. The program linked successful women entrepreneurs to female university students with business degrees (who served as interns) and emerging women micro-entrepreneurs (who were the mentees). REN matched ten teams — a team consisted of a mentee, mentor, and an intern — and each group worked to improve the mentee’s business.
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Children’s book and toys that were developed as a result of Association of Business Women in Serbia’s mentorship program.
Fear of failure. Lack of confidence. Aversion to risk. These are some of the biggest hurdles that one faces when starting a business. Around the world, these challenges are often far more pronounced for women entrepreneurs. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2012 Women’s Report noted that one of the top reasons why there are significantly fewer female entrepreneurs than male entrepreneurs is because women simply believe they are incapable of launching their own businesses.
What can be done to reverse such beliefs?
One answer is fostering a network among women in business through mentorships.
The Association of Business Women in Serbia (ABW) and Red de Empresarias de Nicaragua (REN) both saw a pattern in their countries: women are reluctant to start businesses because they lack role models and the right skillsets to pursue entrepreneurship. To fill this gap, CIPE is supporting both organizations to empower and support aspiring or new women entrepreneurs in Serbia and Nicaragua.
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What does it take to make a virtual mentorship successful? How effectively can experienced professionals share their expertise and wisdom by mentoring non-profit organizations around the world?
Through the KnowHow Mentorship platform, a virtual mentorship program that links the professional skills of volunteers with the needs of associations and chambers of commerce from around the world seeking technical assistance, CIPE is currently facilitating 13 virtual mentorships between experienced association executives from the U.S., Canada, and Europe with mentee associations all the way from Bangladesh to Tunisia.
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What if experienced professionals could share their expertise and wisdom by mentoring non-profit organizations around the world?
As highlighted previously in CIPE blog (here and here), KnowHow is a virtual mentorship program that links the professional skills of volunteers with the needs of associations and chambers of commerce from around the world seeking technical assistance.
Join a conversation on Tuesday November 12, 2013 at 8 AM EST with two current KnowHow pairs to learn about the benefits of participating in the program. Hear how the Georgian Small and Medium Enterprise Association used the knowledge they gained from the mentorship to increase its membership by over 30% in less than a year. Discover what new insights and life-changing experiences the mentors have gained from sharing their expertise and experience with organizations overseas.
Does your association or chamber of commerce aspire to better serve your members?
Do you wish you could manage your organization differently so that things would improve?
Or are you looking for ways to help make your association more sustainable?
If you said yes to any of these questions, then sign up for CIPE’s KnowHow Mentorship program! CIPE is recruiting for business associations and chambers of commerce from around the world looking for free technical assistance.
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Elissa Myers is the president and CEO of Advice & Consensus. She is serving as a mentor for the Georgian Small and Medium Enterprise Association through CIPE’s Knowhow Mentorship program.
When I was offered the opportunity to serve as a mentor to the Georgian Small and Medium Enterprises Association through CIPE’s KnowHow program, I jumped at it. Earlier I spent a couple of months in the Republic of Georgia, working with two other emerging associations, and fell in love with the country, its history, its culture, its people, and its potential.
Strategically located between Asia and Europe, with Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan to the south, the Caucasus Mountains to the north, and with glorious port towns bordering on the Black Sea to the west, Georgia represents an important opportunity for international investment. It’s a country poised to blossom as an important market partner, but to do so a stronger internal business community is needed. Under the leadership of Kakha Kokhreidze, President CEO of the GSMEA, that community is gaining strength.
The CIPE Development Blog provides coverage of the Center for International Private Enterprise and its partner network at work -- highlighting successes, drawing out lessons from failure, and exploring the broader issues of political and economic development. For more information visit CIPE.org.