As AGYW become peer leaders and coaches, they feel empowered and aspire to fulfil their career and entrepreneurial dreams. A mentor’s support and demonstrated confidence in her abilities may be invaluable to motivate a young woman as she takes on new challenges while overcoming adversity. As an established member of the community, her mentor may also be able to open doors that might be hard for her to open on her own.
Career exploration mentors often serve as guides and counsellors. Such mentorship can take the form of a series of guest speakers during programming or field visits to a variety of workplaces. Although short in duration, these mentors serve an important role in helping AGYW understand the requirements and realities of a particular job. These exchanges can help set expectations for AGYW and help them to bridge the gap between their dreams and their realities, thus finding a tangible path to economic empowerment.
The Naz Foundation is developing a mentorship initiative to help their coaches move towards economic empowerment outside of the Goal programme. The Aath Kadam (eight steps) Programme is an economic empowerment programme for 240 Goal Alumni in the age 18 – 25 years. The programme is based on Goal alumni’s needs, lessons learned over the 10 years of Goal implementation and evidence-based literature from women’s economic participation. The eight steps lead young women from an awareness and orientation phase to a stage in which they set their goals, interact with the industries, learn hard and soft skills and receive mentoring. One of the key aspects of this programme is the connection to successful female mentors from relevant industries that can guide participants in exploring different jobs and careers available in local markets, support them in developing and practicing important skills for employment and connecting them to opportunities such as job shadowing and internships.
Mentors for young women entrepreneurs provide consistent, expert, and ongoing support, and can be one of the most effective elements of an entrepreneurship programme. AGYW may feel that they do not have much to contribute or that they will not be successful in starting their own business.
To ensure a mentorship programme is effective, an organisation will need to invest time in planning, identifying promising mentors, orienting them, and creating good matches, as well as scheduling regular check-ins between mentors and mentees. A great resource is the EMpower Toolkit, Chapter 8.