Why Some of the World’s Most Powerful Women Mentor

Aug 11, 2017

When activist, author, and model Dayle Haddon was asked this spring to mentor a female entrepreneur from South Africa, she couldn't resist: "I could not say no," she says. "How could I say no?"

It was the perfect fit for Haddon, who is CEO and founder of WomenOne, a nonprofit that works to make change in the lives of women around the world through education.

Haddon's mentee was Busi Nxumalo, founder and managing director of South African solar energy company GenEnergy and one of 21 women business leaders who traveled to the States this spring for the Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership. In its 12th year, the program matches women from countries ranging from Poland to Zimbabwe with some of the top female executives in the U.S. This year's mentors hailed from companies including Fidelity, Mastercard (MA, +0.34%), IBM (IBM, +0.12%), Accenture, and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, -0.89%).

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"This program is about women's leadership, and we search the world for women with a daring vision—women we believe in the next decade are poised to make extraordinary change," says Alyse Nelson, CEO of Vital Voices. The non-profit helps runs the orientation and debriefing piece of the programming and stays connected to alumnae when they return to their home countries.

Part of the mission of Nxumalo's company is promoting solar to help make sure that the "number of people who die from fires is reduced if not completely done away with," she says.

Haddon couldn't help her mentee with the technical piece of the business, but she had the connections to help her learn how to better promote herself. During the course of the program, Haddon introduced her to some of the editors of Marie Claire.

"You started mentoring me and hopefully I'll be able to take this and mentor a whole lot of other people," Nxumalo told Haddon. "We'll call it Dayle's pyramid scheme."

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we continue to highlight more of the program’s mentors and mentees. Click here to see the rest of the series.

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