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Katuka mentorship programme continues to grow – Attracts largest cohort

Katuka mentorship programme continues to grow – Attracts largest cohort

During a certificate presentation event in Windhoek on Wednesday, the Economist Businesswoman Club celebrated the mentors and mentees of the 2023 Katuka Mentorship programme.

Notably, this year’s intake boasted record-breaking participation of 21 mentors and 24 mentees, marking the largest cohort in the programme’s history.

Organiser of the Programme, Desere Lundon-Muller said Katuka is a mentorship programme that was launched in July 2001 to empower and encourage entrepreneurs, business, and professional women to achieve their goals.

“Katuka is about matching a mentee and mentor with similar professional and personal interests in a supportive, sharing, and learning environment to help young and ambitious women entrepreneurs and businesswomen reach their ultimate potential and live purpose-driven lives,” she added.

She said the core objective of the programme is to create a platform for personal growth and advancement of leadership skills for participants to enhance their personal and institutional success, which is done through a tailor-made mentoring programme that is designed to bring out the best for both mentors and mentees.

“Currently in its 22nd year, the programme has produced significant results in the careers of the participating mentees. To date, 485 entrepreneurs and businesswomen have completed the programme and 45 mentors and mentees have completed the programme for 2023 and will be awarded certificates for their contribution and progress,” she said.

One of the mentees, Naemi Ekandjo a nurse by profession said the Katuka Mentorship journey took her by surprise.

“I came into this journey, with a set of goals, that only concentrated on my profession and I did not pay attention to any personal goals,” she said. She said her mentor changed all of this and encouraged her to have personal and professional goals to balance out her life. “She asked me if I am happy in life, who I am, who I want to be, and how I wanted to get there. Which are questions that go back to childhood traumas, that need to be unlearned,” she said.

She advised future mentees to enjoy the journey, to be prepared for the journey, to be yourself, and to be proud of yourself throughout your achievements during the journey. “Do not be hard on yourself if you fail, go back to the drawing board and try again,” she added.

The achievements that she is proud of accomplishing during the programme are that she learned to say no, especially when it comes to her finances, she got promoted at work and she obtained her driver’s licence.

Outgoing mentor, Annamarie Van der Riet who has been a mentor for 18 years to date said she is grateful for the journey she had and the people she has met during this journey. “It has been a privilege to walk this path and I have mentored 26 mentees over the years and I am very proud of this achievement,” she added.

She said the mentees are in her heart and the programme is also in her heart. “Never stop learning, live to learn, but do not stop giving. Your body is your health, take care of it rest, and look after yourself,” she advised. She told the mentees that they were ready, that they should fly high and take the bull by the horns. “Enjoy life, do something that you love, serve your family and country. Remember what TEAM stands for, together, everyone, achieves, more,” she concluded.

From Bank Windhoek who is the sponsor of the programme, Hailey Allen, Head: Strategic Communication said there is power in the women’s movement, which is not often recognised and that is why as a Bank they wholeheartedly support the Katuka mentorship.

She wished Naemi Ekandjo, the best in her nursing profession because as someone who has frequented hospitals, she recognises that nurses are the caregivers, the ones who encourage and motivate patients, during difficult times.

She said Katuka is a celebration of a process where mentorship has woven its magic. “For the mentees, this means that you are armed with new skills, and ready to take your business and career to the next level, while for the mentors, I do believe that there has been a fundamental shift for you as well, as guides, as teachers and as soundboards,” she added.

Allen said embarking on a journey such as one offered by Katuka improves, elevates, and enriches lives. “This journey allows people access to information and expertise and particularly, allows ordinary, aspiring women access to what other ordinary women with experience have encountered on their paths to business success,” she highlighted.

She mentioned to the ladies that they are committed to journeying with them to achieve their dreams, and their greatness and contribute to their independence as women and business owners. “Let us circle back to, ‘Ask yourself, what would I do if I were not afraid, and then, go do it’. Bank Windhoek wishes both mentored and mentees all the best in your endeavours and we look forward to seeing you next year,” she said.

Patron of the Katuka Mentorship Programme and Advisor: Constitutional Affairs and Private Sector Interface, at the Office of the President, Inge Zaamwani-Kamwi, coming to the graduation of the programme always gives me a lease of life and affirms what we are doing with Katuka.

“This programme must continue because many women need this and I encourage previous mentees and mentors to be ambassadors of the programme. Spread the word,” she concluded.


About The Author

Mandisa Rasmeni

Mandisa Rasmeni has worked as reporter at the Economist for the past five years, first on the entertainment beat but now focussing more on community, social and health reporting. She is a born writer and she believes education is the greatest equalizer. She received her degree in Journalism at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in June 2021. . She is the epitome of perseverance, having started as the newspaper's receptionist in 2013.