From Stuck to Strength

How Empathy and Sponsorship Create a Path for Female Entrepreneurs

Audrey Downey’s journey with the She’s Got This mentorship program is a story of resilience and renewal. Moving from Canada to Finland, Audrey had to find her way in a new country. She had spent over a decade as a musician, web designer, and a content creator but faced challenges in expanding her business in Finland. She felt stuck, dealing with personal struggles, financial stress, and a lack of direction.
When she found the mentorship program, she was paired with Hannele Mennala. Hannele has experience in business and a passion for personal growth. Having lived in several countries and worked in different industries, she understood the challenges of being a female entrepreneur in a new country.

Through the mentorship program, Audrey found a supportive ally in Hannele. She not only provided guidance and a fresh perspective but also became an advocate for Audrey, opening doors to new opportunities. Their journey together shows the transformative power of mentorship, proving that with empathy and the right support, it’s possible to move from feeling stuck to finding strength.

The Challenges of an Immigrant Female Entrepreneur in a New Country
When Audrey first joined the She’s Got This mentorship programme, she was facing significant challenges in both her personal and professional life. Her personal struggles had left her feeling overwhelmed, especially with the challenges she had to face on her own being in a new country. “I felt like my career was at a standstill and I wasn’t sure how to move forward,” Audrey shared. She felt uncertain about her future and doubted her ability to keep going.

Beyond the personal challenges, Audrey struggled with confidence in her professional life. “I was at a turning point in my life where I had to make big decisions, and I didn’t know how things were going to be going,” she said, reflecting on how lost she felt. Despite years of experience in music and content creation, and education background in website development, Audrey couldn’t see a clear path forward and was unsure of how to bridge the gap between her current skills and her future goals.

Hannele, her mentor, also noticed how stuck Audrey felt, describing her initial mindset as being “in the dead end.” Audrey questioned her own capabilities and options. She felt boxed in by the circumstances of her personal life and the professional challenges she faced as an immigrant entrepreneur in a new country. Hannele recognized that Audrey needed more than technical advice; she needed a mindset shift and a supportive hand to help her see the opportunities ahead.

Audrey Downey

A Mentor’s Role in Transformation
Hannele Mennala, with her extensive background in business, took on the role of Audrey’s mentor with empathy and understanding. From the start, she focused on Audrey’s needs and dreams, making sure that her guidance was tailored to Audrey’s unique situation. “We started to discuss and explore what her needs, goals, and dreams are,” Hannele shared, noting that the mentorship process required time and patience.

Audrey was in a tough spot, and Hannele recognized that her main challenge wasn’t just about practical business issues. Instead, she helped Audrey realize that many of her perceived limitations were self-imposed, born out of a lack of confidence. Hannele said, “Having the time reserved to elaborate and discuss the dreams and the possibilities, and then planning the way forward,” was crucial in guiding Audrey toward seeing what was truly possible.

Hannele didn’t just provide encouragement; she took on an active role in helping Audrey connect with new people and opportunities. She invited Audrey to join a project that introduced her to a wider network. “We needed web developers in our association,” Hannele recalled, offering Audrey a chance to apply her skills and build a portfolio. This gave Audrey the chance to connect with 20 or 30 new people, expanding her professional network and customer base.

Audrey expressed how valuable it was to have someone like Hannele, who had both empathy and experience. “Having someone who genuinely believed in me and constantly reminded me that I’m able to… not just by her words, but by her actions,” Audrey explained, was key to her transformation. The relationship they built helped Audrey regain her confidence and see new possibilities for her business.

Hannele Mennala

A Mentee’s Growth Journey From Stuck to Strength
Audrey’s journey from feeling stuck to finding strength wasn’t an overnight process. It took time and commitment to shift her mindset and embrace her potential. “I felt like I was stuck… I didn’t believe in myself at all,” she admitted, reflecting on the low point she faced before starting the mentorship program.

However, with Hannele’s support, Audrey started to see her situation differently. Hannele helped her understand that it wasn’t about making drastic changes overnight, but rather about taking small steps and exploring new possibilities. “You don’t need to know if the new way works. You can just take small steps and test and then you learn,” Hannele said. This approach encouraged Audrey to experiment and build confidence gradually.
Audrey realized the value of Hannele’s guidance through practical exercises that allowed her to visualize her goals and see how she could achieve them. One of the impactful exercises was creating a vision board, which helped Audrey break free from a limiting mindset. “We started cutting stuff, and as we were pasting things, we were chatting about different things… I came across this one part of the article… and somehow that phrase was like, ‘Hey, actually, you know what? Maybe I can do both,'” Audrey recalled.

Hannele’s active role in opening doors and providing opportunities also played a significant role in Audrey’s growth. By introducing Audrey to her network, Hannele helped her find new connections and build a stronger professional community. “She has increased her network a lot, and she has started to create a new portfolio,” Hannele noted, observing the positive changes in Audrey’s career.

Through the mentorship program, Audrey not only expanded her network and skills but also rediscovered her confidence. She learned to trust her abilities and recognized that she had the strength to move forward. “Helping others helps me learn. It helps me be energized. I get a lot from it,” Audrey said, showing how the mentorship had reignited her passion for helping others while also growing her own business.

The Power of Mentorship
Audrey’s mentorship experience with Hannele through the ‘She’s Got This’ mentorship program highlights the transformative power of mentorship. For Audrey, having a mentor who genuinely believed in her was pivotal in changing her outlook. “Having someone who understands where you are, professionally even… that gives me peace of mind,” she noted, emphasizing the importance of having someone who could relate to her challenges.
Hannele, with her empathy and willingness to advocate for Audrey, opened doors that helped Audrey regain her confidence. “I think she was able to move from that stuck situation,” Hannele reflected, acknowledging how their mentorship helped Audrey gain momentum in her career. The relationship they built was about more than just technical advice; it was about fostering belief and resilience.

For anyone considering becoming a mentor, Hannele emphasized the mutual benefits. “It’s very empowering for the mentors as well,” she said, explaining how the relationship was rewarding for both parties. “You get when you give.” Audrey’s growth journey shows that mentorship isn’t just about advice—it’s about creating a supportive space where mentees can discover their own strength and potential.

Audrey’s story shows that with the right mentorship, female entrepreneurs can transform their challenges into opportunities for growth. The power of empathy and sponsorship in mentorship can create lasting change, not just for individual entrepreneurs but for the broader business community as well.