Mentoring Matters to Women-led Businesses in LDCs

07.03.2019 Lisa McAuley

Over the past few weeks I’ve undertaken a whistle-stop tour of Asia-Pacific, working on the GTPA’s three-year Australian Aid-funded programme to establish support services for small businesses in developing countries. I have visited Samoa, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh (the countries where the programme will be implemented).

While undertaking a range of meetings with both the public and private sectors, I was also fortunate to catch up with some of the women who were part of the Australia Awards: Women Trading Globally programme. Our CEO, Lisa McAuley, and I initiated this programme back in 2017, and I had the rare privilege of training and guiding the women through three separate courses in 2017 and 2018.

Although I’ve been in constant touch with the women since their courses concluded, participating in (their very active!) Messenger groups, lending support where I could, and sometimes just being a sounding board, it was meeting them face-to-face again – and in their home countries – that made me realise just how important mentoring and being part of a global network is to small businesses owners. This is particularly true of women in LDCs who sometimes feel isolated and quite lonely as they struggle to grow their businesses, often with little support.

All the women who completed the Australia Awards: Women Trading Globally programme have access to Foundation Membership of the GTPA, giving them an immediate sense of belonging in the larger international business world. They also have access to ongoing mentoring as and when they require it. And in conversations over the past few weeks I learnt firsthand just how valuable this mentoring has been in helping them overcome hurdles that otherwise could have been insurmountable.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I want to highlight the importance of support and mentorship for women in LDCs. When we’re part of a global business family, we all do better!