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Business mentors celebrate 10 years

Thursday October 31, 2019 Written by Published in Economy

Ana File-Heather’s inspiration to start her own business was a reality TV show. But when real life came calling, it was a business mentor who helped her make it work.

 

The clothing line Fave Designs has grown over the past four years, with the assistance of the Chamber of Commerce’s mentoring programme.

File-Heather has had experienced business consultant Janet Brooker as her mentor. Much of the time, File-Heather has been in Cook Islands, and Brooker has been in New Zealand.

But now they’re looking forward to catching up in person, as Brooker visits Rarotonga to kick off the programme’s 10th series.

File-Heather says mentorship is very important in business, whether in its early stages or right through to when it is well-developed.

“I started up a brand new business without any business experience,” she recalls.

“I was fortunate to have jumped on board the Chamber of Commerce mentorship programme and I have been with my mentor close to four years.

“She has been amazing. They provide a whole lot of outside perspective that you might not necessarily have thought of and they would suggest things that look at from a different angle.”

File-Heather says she always wanted to have a business. She started the business based on a reality TV show.  “It was never meant to be a retail store!”

With Brooker’s advice, she opened another store in Muri, where they stock their own clothing and other young Cook Islands women’s brands as well.

When there are things she is not sure about, she sends Brooker an email who gives her tips to help her make a decision.

Over the past 10 years, Cook Islands Business Mentoring Programme has had 350 businesses using the service.

The “original four” mentors – Terry Gillespie, Janet Brooker, Bruce Taylor and Deen Srivastava – have all stuck with the programme. Most will be back in Rarotonga next week.

The Chamber of Commerce says they offer advice on everything from increasing sales to taxation, staff welfare – and ultimately, preparing the business for sale. Should a business prove to be not viable, the mentors will also give the owner the bad news that they should shut it down. All discussions are strictly confidential.