For the second year in a row, AFA organized a Mentorship Program for Female Entrepreneurs, with the goal of providing female entrepreneurs with specific knowledge and skills for running successful businesses, but also the opportunity to connect and network - both with each other and with female leaders from various business spheres within wide AFA business network. The program is primarily suited for female business owners and female startups, but all women who have a clear business idea and have not yet implemented it can also apply. The Mentorship Program for Female Entrepreneurs is a joint program of AFA and Impact Hub Belgrade within the WE Founders Initiative, a three-year project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
This year’s mentorship program consisted of:
· Six sessions dedicated to "core" business skills, held by Impact Hub Belgrade (Market entry and growth strategy, Business revenues and their growth, Strategic storytelling, Sales: "funnel", planning and activities, Financial planning, Fundraising)
· Six sessions dedicated to "soft" leadership skills, held by AFA (Networking skills, Leadership skills, tools and styles, Self-promotion skills, Negotiation and sales skills, Coping with issues and learning from failure, Entrepreneurship as a lifestyle)
· Two events organized by AFA where female entrepreneurs are able to demonstrate the skills they have learned during the program. The first event was a virtual networking session which enabled entrepreneurs to connect on a deeper level and the second event is about to be organized in the coming period – it will imply 1-on-1 conversations ("side chats") between participants and female leaders from the AFA business network. The idea of these side chats is to expose entrepreneurs to real life situations where they present their business to potential “business angels”, present their self-promotion and presentation skills, and demonstrate all the knowledge they acquired during the program.
Participants of this year’s program were very delighted with the program despite the virtual format it took due to pandemic circumstances. They were surprised how in such circumstances AFA still managed to secure a pleasant and friendly atmosphere where they would feel relaxed and opened to ask questions, but also to make lifelong connections.
Networking is a field where women are generally “weak” on average, so we believe that it is the best asset of mentorships programs that AFA organizes. We teach female entrepreneurs how to network, explain to them why networking is crucial for them, and we provide them with the opportunity to connect with the wide network of successful women in Serbia. Through these mentorship programs, AFA strives to create a network of participants and mentors who will be closely connected at all times and ready to provide support to women entrepreneurs whenever they need it. Even after the end of the program, program participants remain in contact and can always contact the AFA network, but participants are also encouraged to share their knowledge and contacts, so that this unique network grows and women's businesses grow with joint efforts and women's solidarity.