The Foundation commits to scaling an initially successful pilot project that took place from June 2010 untill May 2011 with 25 women entrepreneurs from Bangladesh, India, Israel, and Palestine, and 30 mentors from the UK. The Foundation now aims to mentor 1,000 small and growing women-led businesses from developing and emerging markets. In partnership with local organizations, the Cherie Blair Foundation will recruit women entrepreneurs three times a year, in January, May, and September. Mentees need to be able to access the internet and have a working knowledge of English so that they can interact with each other and make best use of the online forum and library. Mentors are recruited globally on a rolling basis. Mentors are both men and women who are in mid-career roles or are entrepreneurs themselves. To become a mentor, they must have at least seven years of professional experience in a specific area of expertise as well as a commitment to supporting a woman entrepreneur to become what she aspires to be. Mentors and mentees complete an online multi-media training session, which consists of the following three components: 1) how to conduct their mentoring relationships; 2) how to use the platform and its various tools effectively; and 3) how to use Google tools that could be useful for growing their business. Mentees are then matched with mentors using innovative technology, with staff reviews to ensure the best possible match. Once the training is successfully completed, mentors and mentees then undertake a 12-month, one-to-one mentoring relationship, using the Google-designed web platform. They also have access to a range of online capacity building and networking resources. The Foundation identifies potential mentor and mentee organizations, matches the mentees with the mentors, organizes the online forum and resources library, monitors the relationships, and assesses mentoring progress through surveys and impact assessments. The Foundation also hosts informal local mentor and mentee events as well as monthly webinars. The program allows women entrepreneurs to feel less isolated, to better connect to new markets and finance, and to increase and improve their business skills.
The program was set up in accordance with the Foundation's mission to provide women with the skills, technology, networks, and access to finance that they need to become successful small and growing business owners. In order to achieve this mission, three strategic goals were set along with a clear strategy to achieve them.
1. Develop women entrepreneurs' business and ICT skills (provide skills and technology)
2. Create an international networking community (access to networks)
3. Create financial opportunities for mentees (access to capital)
Goal 1: Develop 1,000 women entrepreneurs' business and ICT skills
Will be achieved through:
1. Supporting strong mentoring relationships by:
- Matching mentors and mentees based on in-depth assessment of needs and attributes;
- Monitoring the frequency of interactions and providing support and advice to mentors and mentees through performance tracking questionnaires;
- Creating case studies to emphasize and share good practice and results; and
- Developing sophisticated monitoring and evaluation processes.
2. Delivering high-quality, accessible training by:
- Further developing the sophisticated online training platform and testing for mentors and mentees; and
- Working closely with partners, such as Google and Clutterbuck Associates, to develop innovative ways of delivering online trainings that are appropriate to different cultural contexts.
3. Developing the e-mentoring library:
- Building a strong e-library resource with tools for mentors and mentees; and
- Strengthening partnerships with universities and research organizations to access up-to-date resources.
Goal 2: Create an international networking community
Will be achieved through:
1. Developing networking opportunities for mentees:
- Providing engagement events for mentees, such as through online events and webinars, best practice workshops, and regional events;
- Creating more activities around the online members forums, such as content driven posts on program news or educational, 'show and tell' posts which encourage members to share their achievements and best practice; and
- Supporting use of the forums and group mentors to facilitate discussions, linkages, and business partnerships.
2. Developing networking opportunities for mentors:
- Holding engagement events for mentors, such as through best practice workshops, regional events, online events, and webinars; and
- Facilitating the development of mentors' leadership, intercultural awareness, and management skills through promoting use of forums, mentor-mentor interaction, and self-reflection.
3. Increasing the number of participants in the program by:
- Working with existing partners and developing new partnerships to increase the number of mentors and mentees engaged in the program;
- Attending external events to engage new participants and raise awareness of the program.
Goal 3: Create financial opportunities for mentees:
Will be achieved through:
1. Showcasing Mentees' businesses
- Analyzing performance tracking results to assess which mentees have the highest-performing businesses, highlighting their success, and - through celebration events - introducing them and the program to funding opportunities;
- Creating an online marketplace for mentees' businesses.
2. Implementing the Foundation's access to finance model:
- Identify a suitable access to finance on-line training and a financial literacy series
- Conduct research and build partnerships with partners such as financial institutions to increase financing options for mentees.
Mentee Recruitment Targets:
Total per year: 200
Accumulative total: 200
Total per year: 350
Accumulative total: 550
Total per year: 500
Accumulative total: 1050
Many women across developing and emerging markets have the ideas and ambition needed to become successful entrepreneurs, but are held back by barriers such as lack of access to business skills, technology, networks, and finance. In response, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women has developed an innovative solution that combines mentoring with technology to offer cross-border support to women entrepreneurs in developing and emerging economies. Using interactive Google technology, the e-mentoring program boosts confidence, improves business performance, and ultimately creates wealth for women entrepreneurs in developing and emerging markets. In return, mentors benefit from training, networking, and the opportunity to give back. The pilot has been successful in demonstrating increased confidence, capability, and capital of women entrepreneurs, and the program is now being scaled up.