January is National Mentoring Month, and the BLNDED Media team is excited to kick off our 2019 BLNDED Founders series by discussing the importance of having a mentor in the beginning stages of launching a brand, business, on nonprofit. However, Basant Shenouda did not have a mentor growing up. This need inspired her to launch a nonprofit focused on helping others find someone to look up to and consult with.
BLNDED Media: Let’s talk about your company, what you do, and why you chose to do that.
Shenouda: I am currently working on a nonprofit that focuses on mentorship for my minority’s youth. Although I am in the beginning of the planning phase, working towards helping the youth of my country has been an exhilarating experience. It’s so important to have a servant mindset and to want to give back to your community and people.
BLNDED: What problem are you trying to solve?
Shenouda: My minority is called the Coptics in Egypt and we face heavy and constant prosecution. My minority’s youth live in an environment where it’s difficult to want to expand yourself and dream big. My nonprofit aims at establishing a mentorship program where youth and more experienced Coptics can support and be supported, allowing for more collaboration in the community and the youth to feel more represented.
BLNDED: What has been your biggest hurdle as an entrepreneur? What lessons have you learned?
Shenouda: It’s difficult to work on a project when you cannot personally be involved in the country your project will be focused in, and that has been a huge hurdle in the planning phase. Overall, planning is something I would love to hear more from in the entrepreneurial journeys of others. However, establishing a strong network and people who are like-minded and share the same dream is extremely important for the success of any project and I’ve been extremely happy with the progress and help so far.
BLNDED: What resources have helped you the most as an entrepreneur?
Shenouda: Mentorship has definitely been key to becoming an entrepreneur as the idea of my nonprofit has evolved due to being around inspiring and helpful people that I look up to. This is why I extremely prioritize mentorship and hope that it aids my people in reaching their full potential. Furthermore, community has been a motivational force in my dreams as it is so important to have a family to fall back on when needed.
BLNDED: What does diversity and/or diversity in tech mean to you?
Shenouda: Being from such a small minority, I understand the importance of representation in all industries. I lacked a role model from my minority to look up to growing up and can only hope I can become someone others can seek inspiration from. Furthermore, diversity enables us to have several different perspectives and make the most of a collaborative environment, it is essential to a successful project or idea.
BLNDED: What advice do you have for first-time entrepreneurs?
Shenouda: For first-time entrepreneurs, I would recommend constantly learning from mentors around you as it’s so important to learn from other people’s mistakes! Seek out mentors based on your current needs and what you think you should improve on personally and in your business! It is the best way to learn and grow as an entrepreneur.