We are continually welcoming new business professionals in becoming mentors for the astounding women that go through the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® program. This year, Cathy Cruzan was introduced to IEEW and eagerly volunteered to mentor a woman entrepreneur from another country. Cathy Cruzan is the President of Funds For Learning, an E-rate consultancy and software services firm supporting schools, libraries and state consortiums. She was matched with Alice Umuhoza from Kigali, Rwanda with her business, COMNET, a Rwandan IT services company offering software development, consulting and more.
Mentorship matching is a special aspect of PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® that has impact beyond what any statistic can measure. When we think of mentorship, we think about the invaluable experiences, lessons, and training that one can gain from having a mentor there to guide them from their years of experience in business. But sometimes we forget to acknowledge what the mentor gets out of the relationship. In Cathy’s case, she involved her colleagues from her organization in the mentorship process, which presented her with opportunities to discover different talents and skills within her own team.
The importance of learning from other cultures is present in so many areas of life, including the business world. And this goes for both the mentor and the mentee. We asked Cathy about her experience as a mentor and she said “The opportunity to collaborate with a female entrepreneur in Rwanda has broadened my daily business awareness and expanded my knowledge.” Cathy’s favorite part of this experience so far has been getting to know Alice, saying that she was an inspiration to her and her colleagues at Funds For Learning.
Cathy worked regularly with Alice, helping her to craft her final business plan and setting up weekly video calls. Alice was selected to come to the USA and attend Leadership Development in July, which would give Cathy the chance to mentor her in person. However, a reality of this international program is that not all of the women selected for Leadership Development are able to obtain a visa. This was unfortunately the case with Alice. The relationship between Cathy and Alice does not end here, despite this bump in the road, as many mentors/mentees maintain a relationship for years beyond their initial connection.
As the program moves forward, more of these mentor stories touch our hearts and change lives forever. This July, IEEW and Sister Cities are collaborating on a special event highlighting mentors and their mentees in OKC. Hear their inspiring stories and meet the women for yourself. For more info on this event and others CLICK HERE.