By Gyanu Bist
Meena Basnet has dedicated herself to supporting women entrepreneurs for 12 years. She has always been interested in social services. Encouraging startups and pushing existing entrepreneurs is her passion. “Mentoring helps women with decision-making, especially in rural areas. It reduces their feeling of isolation and improves their satisfaction. The handholding provided to them develops their competence” says Meena.
She explains that mentoring relationships require time and dedication but this has never deterred her from visiting regularly the 23 women entrepreneurs who rely on her advice. During her mentoring programs, she examines the entrepreneur’s business activity and together they set specific goals. Of course, motivation is the key driver to keep the entrepreneurs engaged in their work. Indeed, she also supports them in case of failures. Together they analyze what has worked and what has not, and helps them to change their perspective. This approach allows the entrepreneurs to translate any negative experience into a positive learning opportunity to build a solid business. As part of her role, Meena also coordinates and links the entrepreneurs with service agents – financial institutes, technology providers and trainers, and market linkages which are crucial to the development and growth of the business.
In the context of rural Nepal, where travelling is difficult, social and cultural norms hinder women entrepreneurs’ mobility and opportunity to pursue income-generating activities, mentors are a proven resource that can provide a plethora of insights, advice, and guidance.
To Meena, the most satisfying is ‘when entrepreneurs acknowledge my support and the contribution of the project to their success.’ Her biggest achievement has been in ‘saving’ an entrepreneur, helping her acquire a loan of nearly EUR 1,500 at an interest rate of 16 percent to be paid back in five years.
*This piece has been realized for the International Women’s Day within the scope of ENERGIA’s Empowering Women, Engendering Energy (EWEE) Programme, co-funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) and in close collaboration with our partners CRT/N, Energy 4 Impact, Practical Action, TANGSEN and Solar Sister.