Women entrepreneurs in solidarity

International Mentoring Program for Businesswomen

CECI is launching a reciprocal businesswomen mentoring program to pair Canadian and African/Latin American SMEs. This unique program, lasting 5 to 6 months, includes virtual mentoring sessions and a 4-week international stay with the partner company. When women support each other, society as a whole benefits!

Through this initiative, CECI aims to support women entrepreneurs who contribute to shaping their countries' economies by creating sustainable wealth for themselves and the women they employ and/or collaborate with.

Reciprocal Mentoring: A Space To Grow as Compassionate Leaders

In a reciprocal mentoring relationship built on listening, trust, intercultural approach and mutual respect, you will be both a mentor and a mentee. By embracing these exchanges, you will discover innovative business models rooted in international markets, thus propelling innovation.It is a great opportunity to share common challenges as businesswomen, while exploring different cultural realities.

By participating in this program, you will contribute to improving business models, increasing women's income and creating jobs.  Let's build a future where female leadership transcends borders, creating a lasting impact on our communities and the business world!

What's in it for you?

An enriching experience

The Solidarity Women Entrepreneurs program offers a structured mentoring experience based on the learning objectives identified by the paired entrepreneurs. It may help you clarify your strategic vision for your business's growth and diversify your sources of funding. You will develop your abilities to seize business opportunities, network internationally and innovate to be prepared for the world of tomorrow. By developing your ability to interact in an intercultural context, mentoring strengthens your self-confidence and develops your ability to identify your individual strengths and learn from your mistakes.

In terms of business strategy, this program could improve your value offer, market segmentation, customer relations, local and international marketing and distribution strategy. It will also help you optimize your operations, partner network, organizational culture, environmental and social impact, as well as practices promoting inclusion and diversity in both human resources and marketing.

You do not necessarily need mentoring experience. Your entrepreneurial experience is what makes you the ideal candidate.

Process

Specifically, the pairing takes place over a period of 5 to 6 months and involves a meeting every two weeks. Our team assesses the mutual learning interests of the applicants to create successful pairings. You will receive training before starting the program, followed by virtual meetings led by a program manager. Your international stay will last for 3 to 4 weeks and will be followed by digital meetings, an assessment and an impact report upon your return. An engagement activity of the business network completes this enriching journey.

Costs

The program includes an international stay for which participants are required to contribute $4,000 CAD. It is suggested to raise funds in whole or in part. A tax receipt is issued for the portion of the amount you have paid. CECI completes the financial arrangement for your participation through the granting of a pairing scholarship offered by philanthropic entrepreneurs.

A true nursery for growth and entrepreneurial success, this program awaits you to forge unique international connections.

Profiles sought

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Entrepreneurs in consulting services

You are a growing consulting services firm looking to explore mentoring and international support. You want to learn about new markets and/or cultural realities?

Whether you specialize in marketing, human resources, accounting, operations management, product design, or another field, you're driven to redefine your business model to enhance your social and environmental impact.

You're motivated to improve your ability to support clients in intercultural contexts and assess the potential to export your expertise internationally. This program could help you determine if offering your services in another language is viable and connect you with international stakeholders in your industry.

Green economy entrepreneurs

A passionate entrepreneur in the agri-food, natural resource management, or green technology sectors, in the scaling phase, you are ready to develop responsible international partnerships.

Do you want to share your expertise related to your growth and business strategy? Do you also have an interest in developing business relationships for sourcing or exporting internationally? The mentoring program can help support your goals.

If this is your case, the program will allow you to develop business contacts in other countries for exports or responsible sourcing. You will improve your knowledge of best practices, scaling, impact and environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices to contribute positively to the global green economy.

Advisor within an entrepreneurial support organization

Use your knowledge and skills to support current and future women entrepreneurs.

As a business development professional, you will share your expertise to stimulate the growth of innovative business models, learn about international entrepreneurship school, incubator and accelerator support practices, and contribute to showcasing Quebec's expertise in supporting entrepreneurial growth. This experience can help you better understand the reality of women entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds that you encounter in your daily work. It can also be an opportunity to explore avenues for developing your international support activities, initiating a new project, or identifying startups that can establish themselves in Canada.

Financial partner providing a pairing grant

A prosperous and philanthropic entrepreneur, you are ready to financially support female leadership here and elsewhere, while promoting the entrepreneurial expertise of Quebec's women.

You can offer a pairing scholarship of $3,000 CAD to support an international mentoring relationship.

By joining our community, you will contribute to building a more equitable and supportive entrepreneurial world, leaving a lasting positive impact.

How does it work?

Steps to apply:

  • Profile Evaluation. Submit your application form. We will assess your learning goals, experience and the desired impact for your business.
  • Getting to know each other. We will meet with you to better understand your mentoring motivations and propose matching types based on your profile.
  • Matching. We offer you a matching and a key period of virtual meetings and overseas stays.
  • Fundraising. As you begin your mentoring journey, you will conduct your fundraising.
  • Training. We will provide training in mentoring, intercultural communication, inclusive support, ethics and professional conduct in the context of international solidarity.
  • Starting the mentoring relationship. Is there chemistry? The relationship can begin! If not, we'll restart the matching process.
  • 3 to 4-week international stay.
  • Post-return mentoring and relationship assessment.

During your tenure, you will have the opportunity to meet women leaders from international organizations, exchange best practices, share tools, gain international perspectives, discuss sectoral challenges, etc. This collaboration will enrich your understanding of international solidarity issues and contribute to creating equitable and sustainable impact.

Alejandra Marquez
Bolivian entrepreneur
Shared Experiences

Building Connections to Facilitate Mothers' Access to Eco-Friendly Products

Laurence Emerit has owned her sustainable development consulting firm in Quebec for many years. Driven by the desire to discover environmentally impactful business models elsewhere to stimulate her creativity and practice her Spanish, she joined the program in 2023. She was paired with Vivianna, a young dental professional who wanted to find a solution to the lack of eco-friendly maternal products in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Laurence and Vivianna quickly developed a relationship based on their shared interest in innovating to democratize access to these products regionally. Vivianna introduced Laurence to sustainable products from Bolivian local knowledge, which inspired her to advise other similar businesses in Quebec. On the other hand, Laurence helped Vivianna implement an action plan to reposition her brand for better communication of its impact, as well as expand her distribution strategy while preserving her eco-responsible practices. Since then, Vivianna has expanded her presence to La Paz, El Alto, Cochabamba and Tarija, following a recommendation on production capacity.

“I met Viviana, owner of Wawita a Bordo, one morning in a university class where 'THINK DIFFERENTLY' was written, and an Oscar Wilde quote said: 'An idea that is not risky is hardly worth being qualified as an idea.' That foreshadowed our creative exchanges. My story with Viviana is a story of lasting friendship, beyond entrepreneurship. Thank you, CECI! ”- Laurence Emerit
Experiences Shared

From Bolivia to Canada: Chocolate as a Vector of Prosperity for Women for Saltus and Qantu

Alejandra Marquez and Elfi Maldonado met through the program, due to their business model focused on Heirloom chocolate and their commitment to local producers. Based in Bolivia and Canada, they collaborated to exchange their skills in chocolate processing and marketing. Their partnership allowed Quantu to explore Bolivian cocoa and Saltus to improve its chocolate recipe, thus opening new markets and increasing production.

"One of the reasons for my trip to Bolivia was the presence of wild, native cocoa, an increasingly rare heritage. Working with this cocoa is an honour and a responsibility for its preservation. Despite the awards won by Saltus, my concern was to convey the importance of preserving its flavours. By exploring chocolates from other countries, I managed to connect with Alejandra, who shared her story and that of her team. Touched by their commitment, I felt the responsibility to promote the quality of Saltus." - Elfi Maldonado, Quantu

Mentoring Interest Form

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