By Jennifer Bessell
Professional and personal networks are essential to the success of women’s leadership and entrepreneurial endeavours. Many women entrepreneurs experience limited access to social networks. This can undermine their access to informal information-sharing, mentors, or supports that can be invaluable for navigating the entrepreneurial ecosystem and business community. Without previous experience or familiarity with the relevant institutions, programs, and opportunities, many women entrepreneurs may not even be aware of the myriad of resources that are available to them.
2017 Economic Action Plan, Unleashing the Potential of Women, identified five key barriers to women as entrepreneurs and in senior leadership positions. Two of the barriers included lack of access to mentors and role models; specifically, the absence of mentorship programs was noted as an obstacle.
Women in Newfoundland and Labrador are seeking opportunities to enhance their leadership and business development skills; experienced entrepreneurs and professionals can help them navigate the early stages of their business growth.
Peer mentoring - Mastermind
NLOWE supports and connects women in business through its award-winning peer mentoring program Mastermind. Mastermind groups are non-competitive micro-networks of women entrepreneurs that focus on member success through facilitated peer mentoring. NLOWE Business Growth Advisors organize and host mastermind groups throughout the province. Mastermind groups focus on business growth but also recognize the importance of personal growth.
NLOWE’S new mentorship program
This fall, NLOWE will introduce a new one-on-one mentorship program to support women throughout the province and further mitigate barriers to mentorship and networks. The program will be available to NLOWE members.
NLOWE will facilitate the mentor-mentee match and provide tools and resources to ensure success.
Mentors will offer advice, guidance, knowledge, and experience. Mentors also provide constructive feedback, challenge mentees in a considerate manner, advocate for mentees, and introduce other supports.
Mentees will be open to learning. Mentees will set the agenda, share their needs with mentors, and take responsibility for decisions and outcomes.
The benefits of mentorship
One-on-one mentorship and peer mentoring can relieve the isolation of business ownership and offer mentees ideas and opinions that come from an outside perspective. The voluntary sharing of knowledge, experiences, challenges, and success are key to successful mentoring relationships.
Why become a mentor?
Many successful women entrepreneurs are unconsciously mentoring other women but would not consider themselves mentors. As leaders in the community and in business, women can reduce the learning curve for new and existing business owners
by sharing their experience and knowledge. A mentor can make a positive impact in a mentee’s business and empower her to take control of her future.
If you are interested in becoming part of the NLOWE Mentorship Program or a Mastermind Group, please visit www.nlowe.org and complete the online application forms.
Jennifer Bessell is the Chief Executive Officer at NLOWE. Jennifer is also the current Vice-Chair of the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC), a volunteer with Junior Achievement of NL, a board member with Women in Science and Engineering Newfoundland and Labrador (WISE-NL), and a member of the Women Presidents Organization (WPO). Jennifer is passionate about lifelong learning and helping others achieve success in their professional endeavours. She considers coaching and mentoring a responsibility of leadership. Jennifer is driven to help women and youth realize their potential and be successful in their journey as entrepreneurs.