Mentoring and Diversity: An International Perspective

Mentoring to help women set up a business UK

Monika Beutel2

I know that my mentee feels that the course has changed her life and given her the confidence she needs to try and put her business ideas into practice. [3]

This comment from a mentor on the Women Entrepreneurs scheme summarizes the experience of many participants. The programme is life-changing because it emphasizes gender diversity in business as a source of creativity, strength and solidarity. Mentoring is an essential element of the package of learning and support that the course provides. The mentors act as role models, practical guides and critical friends to the women on the programme.

As the name suggests, the Women Entrepreneurs scheme at the University of Hertfordshire recruits only women and offers them the opportunity of learning and developing the knowledge and skills necessary for setting up a small business. The six-month programme has been running since 1996 with financial help from the European Social Fund (ESF). In addition to mentoring, the programme also includes workshops for personal and management development as well as distance learning modules in Marketing, Finance, Business Planning and Human Resources. The programme offers the opportunity to gain a Postgraduate Certificate in Small Business Management. By October 2000 over 200 women from ten different intakes had followed the programme; two-thirds have gone on to set up a small business or are still at the business preparation stage. [4]

The course targets women because women are still under represented among new...

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