DOT President & CEO Janet Longmore celebrates International Women's Day by highlighting the importance of mentorship in the personal and professional development of women entrepreneurs.
DOT President & CEO Janet Longmore visits with young Ethiopian entrepreneurs who are improving their skills through the ReachUp!program.
It is rare that an entrepreneur succeeds on their own. Most successful entrepreneurs have benefitted from a network of peers and change-makers who have helped others learn from their successes and failures. This is mentorship. I am privileged to have had several mentors throughout my career who have greatly contributed to my success.
Mentoring allows women to tap into the personal and professional skills of their peers. Women often underestimate themselves, downplaying their talents. A mentor helps to develop the self-confidence women need to "sell" their abilities, become assertive decision-makers and even embrace failure as a necessary step to success. A mentor is also an experienced sounding board for business ideas, an important resource for an entrepreneur to accelerate their business growth and wealth.
Women entrepreneurs, especially in the developing world, often encounter barriers when trying to access professional networks, leading to them remaining isolated with their ambitions. Fortunately, technology is enabling women to connect to fellow entrepreneurs around the world. Mentorship through online platforms and social media is helping women develop the networks, business and technology skills they need to succeed.
This is why mentorship plays a key role in the DOT model. Through DOT, young women and men become leaders of change in their communities, to act as role models for their peers and community members. DOT draws on international public and private sectors to engage mentors for staff, DOT Interns and participants. We have established partnerships with organizations such as the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, through which we connect young women with the Foundation's network of mentors around the world.
Ange Noella shares her business experience with young women in her community.
Because of DOT's focus on mentorship, young women like DOT Rwanda Intern Ange Noella are taking advantage of mentorship opportunities. Ange Noella is a young woman from Rwanda who developed a business plan for manufacturing bricks in her local community. Through DOT, she was introduced to an experienced mentor who coached her to refine her plan and provided guidance on resource requirements, management challenges and customer service skills. As a result, Ange has recently won a national business plan competition, has qualified for financing, and will soon have a business up and running. Bravo Ange! Is her mentoring experience finished? Absolutely not, this is just the latest step of her personal and professional development.
Empowered women entrepreneurs are leaders, role models and perhaps even investors. They are playing greater roles in community and household decision-making, increasing their personal wealth and are investing responsibly for the collective benefit of their families and communities. And so, I would like to dedicate this International Women's Day to the spirit of mentorship, and all the young women who are engaged with mentors - and who will be future mentors themselves.