The author Sana Naseem[1] talks about her mentoring journey as a Business Mentor (Alumni) with the Cherie Blair Foundation’s Programme- Mentoring Women in Business. This blog also explores how Artificial Intelligence (AI) brought two individuals from different backgrounds together on a learning journey that not only resulted in valuable professional development but also a long-lasting friendship.

Matched by an AI algorithm, linked with a purpose, and connected by a shared desire to see each other succeed- this is how my journey as a Mentor with Cherie Blair Foundation’s Program for Mentoring Women in Business ended in 2022. It was the beginning of a learning journey and friendship across cultures and continents.

The Beginning of Mentoring Journey

I first joined the Cherie Blair Foundation’s (CBF) mentoring program for Women in Business in 2013 as a Mentee when I needed mentorship advice for my business endeavor. I received the support I needed to manage my entrepreneurial venture, and I always wanted to give back to the community. In 2022 I had the chance to do just that and I signed up as a Mentor for the prestigious Cherie Blair Mentoring Women in Business Programme and was privileged to have served as the program’s only business mentor from Pakistan.

About Cherie Blair Foundation (CBF)

Started in 2018 to support women entrepreneurs in low and middle income countries, Cherie Blair Foundation’s mission is to empower women to start, grow and sustain successful business so they can redefine the future for themselves and their societies. Their aim is to create future where every woman and girl enjoys equal economic opportunities so they can live to their full potential. To create this future, CBF have different programmes[2] and work through their global research and advocacy. Mentoring Women in Business is one of their programmes.

The Mentoring Women in Business Program (MWIB)

I noticed significant improvements in the way the foundation runs the program now, starting with the induction, everything was well-organized and all communication was conducted through a portal, making it easy to keep track of all processes and requirements. Assistance was readily accessible through the portal as needed. The program was divided into four phases, and provided a wealth of information and resources to help both Mentor and Mentee, effectively utilize the twelve-month period together. To foster productive relationships between Mentors and Mentees, both groups received training before and throughout the 12-month period. Additionally, everyone had access to monthly webinars and a support community to enhance their professional development.

Embracing the World Led by AI Algorithms

“It is unreal that we got matched by AI” at the end of the 12-month mentoring relationship. these are the exact words of Maureen Waweru who was my mentee, the founder of Sunglasses Kenya [3](@Spekts_ke). It is true that we were matched by an algorithm and AI-assisted mentorship has the potential to revolutionize the way we think about and approach mentorship. One of the key benefits of using AI to match mentors and mentees is the ability to make highly accurate and personalized matches based on a wide range of factors such as skills, interests, career goals, and even cultural background.

Cherie Blair Foundation Mentoring Women in Business Alumni

The matching process at CBF MWIB began with a series of questions, both mentor and mentee were asked to answer that helped the AI understand their unique needs and preferences. The AI algorithm then must have used this information to compare and contrast the responses of the potential mentor and mentee, looking for areas of overlap and compatibility. A match must be made based on the highest level of compatibility between two people. The perfect match does not only help in a smooth mentoring experience, but also in reaching the set goals of the mentee and also a great satisfaction of both parties. The AI-assisted pairing can bring a lot of precision and accuracy to the mentoring process and make it more effective, efficient and personal.
When applying to the program as a mentor or mentee, my advice would be to remember to provide accurate and truthful information during the matching phase. This will ensure that the system can match you correctly, and you can get what you hope to gain from the mentoring experience.

A Journey of Growth and Development

During the twelve-month programme, we discussed a range of topics related to professional and personal development, including (not limited to) setting SMART goals, creating systems to track progress towards those goals, establishing short-term and long-term business objectives, creating a business plan, implementing sales strategy and marketing.

Whenever Maureen came up with a fresh concept, closed a sale, hammered out a deal with a vendor, or overcame a challenge in a business plan, she would light up with excitement! She was never afraid to try something new, even if it meant stepping outside her comfort zone. Her questions, curiosity, drive to push herself beyond her comfort zone, and determination reminded me of my journey of entrepreneurship. Using my entrepreneurial experience of more than ten years combined with my work in the wellness[3] industry, I could advise Maureen not only about professional matters but also guide her about personal development whenever needed, while making a difference in her life.

When I look back at the 12-month period, I can say that the elements that made our Mentor-Mentee relationship productive were:

  1. Open communication,
  2. Being proactive,
  3. Mutual respect and trust,
  4. Courage to go beyond comfort zone,
  5. Skillful Listening,
  6. Curiosity,
  7. Passion,
  8. An understanding that we are humans living our life with multiple perspectives, emotions and experiences
  9. Adopting a flexible approach in meetings and working with what’s present in the moment rather than following a strict timeline.

Beginning of an Alliance Between Women Entrepreneurs

Every encounter with this excellent entrepreneur over the past 12 months has been a learning opportunity. I’m grateful and honoured to have met Maureen, served as her mentor, and learned about resilience.

In November 2022, Maureen and I graduated from the prestigious Cherie Blair Program for Women in Business. Even though the program has ended, a mentorship connection that began with AI matching evolved into an alliance between two women entrepreneurs who wanted to support each other’s success through knowledge sharing.

Thank you Cherie Blair Foundation for this wonderful opportunity. Participating in this program expanded my perspective and provided me with a deeper understanding of the global business landscape. Furthermore, it was incredibly rewarding to share my own learned business insights, lessons, and strategies – both from successes and failures – with another entrepreneur.

I recommend the Cherie Blair Foundation’s Mentoring Women in Business program for those seeking to advance their business. The program offers extensive support and guidance from experienced mentors, leading to valuable growth opportunities and meaningful mentor relationships.





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