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Finding a female mentor

Provided by Business Partners Ltd, South Africa's leading investor in SMEs


ThreeWomen.jpgIt's no secret that women think and behave differently to the not-so-fair sex and it's no different when it comes to business. It's one reason why you may want to consider finding for a female mentor.

As a woman entrepreneur, you may feel you'll benefit more from learning from a woman with years of experience in an often male-dominated business world. Not only do you 'speak the same language', but there will also be an immediate sense of empathy between you around the challenges women face, which is not a bad place to start the learning curve.

With so many successful women entrepreneurs out there and industries becoming more progressive in this regard, there is an abundance of women with experience in a range of industries. To keep these numbers growing, many women's organisations and associations provide mentorship programmes to help their fellow sisters in business.

What are you looking for in a business mentor?

Before you ask someone to mentor you, there are a few questions you need to answer:

  • Which area of your business do you need help with?
  • Do you have a clear vision of where you'd like to see your business going?
  • How much time are you prepared to spend with a mentor?
  • What do you expect to get out of it?
  • Are you prepared to take direction from her?
  • Are you prepared to pay for mentorship?

Organisations that offer mentorship for women:

Depending on the industry you're doing business in, it may be a good idea to ask professional associations in your area if they provide mentors. Below is a list of just a few resources we were able to find:

  • The Johannesburg Business Women's Association's Succeed Campaign provides business management support to start-up businesses via a structured process and a panel of advisors to assist new businesses succeed beyond their first year of business
  • Women in IT is a bursary and mentorship programme that helps to grow and develop women within the information technology sector and create formal and informal networks between female IT students, tertiary institutions, South African IT professionals and Corporates
  • Technology for Women in Business (TWIB) is an initiative aimed at enhancing the accessibility of science and technology to women in business and in particular in small, medium and macro enterprises (SMMEs). It is a national programme under the auspices of the Department of Trade and Industry
  • Women in Finance has developed an entrepreneurial programme supported by the International Labour Organisation and Chamsa. Interventions are being planned to create and promote sustainable businesses. This we believe will be achieved by obtaining challenges and opportunities from the individuals, and then bringing together a collaborative group of government and non-government organisations that will offer support and work together with those entrepreneurs until they achieve success.
  • Business Partners, South Africa's leading specialist investment company for entrepreneurs has a database of carefully selected individuals who have proved themselves successful in their businesses and careers, to provide a service of high standard and quality. All mentors subscribe to Business Partners Mentors’ code of ethics which will ensure that the principles of integrity, good faith, confidentiality, impartiality, incorruptibility, accountability and professional conduct will be adhered to.
  • Local and Provincial governments, Private Companies and Non-profit Organisations within specific industries offer mentorship programmes aimed at enterprise development, so do some research in this area

As a woman in a very competitive business environment, it's important that you use whatever opportunities are out there to help you run your business successfully. Consider finding a mentor to put you on the right track.

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