Increasing capability through e-mentoring

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Cherie Blair Foundation for Women announces future plans for Mentoring Women in Business Program. Aims to expand to the maximum of 1,000 participants globally.

A unique initiative for women entrepreneurs in Malaysia reports overwhelming positive feedback in its mid-year report, according to project partners. Of the 49 participants in Malaysia, 80% have reported a positive impact on their businesses, and 90% reported improvement in their knowledge of technology, and in their personal confidence levels.

The innovative cross-border e-mentoring program was launched in Malaysia in February in collaboration with wireless technology provider Qualcomm and The Foundation for Women’s Education and Training based in Petaling Jaya. It matches women entrepreneurs whose businesses have potential for future expansion, including small and growing enterprises.

Selected participants from Selangor, Perlis, Kedah and Sarawak are required to attend prior language and ICT training before being matched with mentors based outside of Malaysia. This engagement happens either through email, video calls or chats and are scheduled weekly. For this, all participants are equipped with a 3G-enable tablet and access to an interactive communications platform customised from Google Sites.

The Mentoring Women in Business Program is developed by the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women with local country partners, and has benefited participants in 29 countries in developing and emerging economies, including in Malaysia. An independent evaluation of the global Mentoring Women in Business Program, which began in 2010, shows that participants have gained confidence, marketing skills and business knowledge especially in marketing, e-commerce, branding and knowledge of financial systems.

The program’s gender and technology specific focus is not just for its novelty value. According to data shared by Qualcomm, a woman is 23% less likely to own a phone in Southeast Asia, and 40% of women in developing countries report an increase in income and professional opportunity because of their mobile phones. Qualcomm’s support for the program is via their global Wireless Reach initiative to provide wireless technology to underserved communities.

The case for empowering and training women in their small and growing businesses is beyond the micro-financing support, says Cherie Blair, the chairperson and founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation. Women selected for the Mentoring Women in Business Program can create employment opportunities and make a positive impact on their society and their wider community, she explains.

Mentoring Women in Business Program is developed by the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women with local country partners, and has benefited participants in 29 countries.

Moving forward, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women aims to expand to the maximum of 1,000 participants globally for this e-mentoring program, says Blair. She believes that this will return optimum results for both mentors and participants in the quality of knowledge exchanged on the platform, and to ensure that the personal aspect of mentoring is not lost. Blair also shared that the foundation is looking for partners to make available funds of between £5,000 and £15,000 for their participants.

At the same media event, local telecommunications provider Maxis Bhd announced its support for the Mentoring Women in Business Program with free mobile data plans for participants.

The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

Photo credit: Flickr user MyTudut

 

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