Finding Your Cheerleader

September 22, 2020 | Written by Noah Nuñez Gross

“I think a lot of people don’t know how much they need a mentor until they have one.”

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Roxanne Barthus

Roxanne Barthus is a South African entrepreneur and educator. Her business, Noah's Need4read, helps children improve their reading comprehension and writing.

See Roxanne's profile on MicroMentor here.

Roxanne, from South Africa, never saw herself becoming an educator and much less a businesswoman. It wasn’t until she was in college tutoring her peers and lecturing that she discovered her passion: teaching. “I love talking to people, socializing, and most of all, seeing their growth and improvement.”

Roxanne didn’t consider her passion a potential living until her father gave her some encouragement. “My father owned and ran his own auto shop, he was my first mentor and the one who pushed me to make a business out of my skill.” Roxanne decided to give it a go, first launching a social program funded by local businesses and aimed at addressing the 78% illiteracy rate among young South Africans. She tutored children ages 7–13 in reading comprehension and writing. Within 3 months the children were performing at appropriate levels based on their age group.

While she loved what she was doing and had brought on 3 full-time employees, Roxanne felt that she had stagnated in her business, “I felt I lacked the skills other people had to grow the business and was focused in just one area. I didn’t feel like I was charging what the service being offered was worth. I also wanted to grow my client base.” These feelings led her to look for help online.

Through entrepreneurship videos on YouTube, Roxanne learned that having a mentor is crucial to growing professionally and as a business. She began searching for resources and found MicroMentor. “At first I didn’t know MicroMentor was free to use and I was somewhat skeptical.” However, that skepticism melted away when she began corresponding with her mentor. There was an immediate connection between the two. “Initially I was going to ask anyone with a business to be my mentor but then I saw her profile and picked her because of our similarities and her educational background. She’s an education counselor in India, and we both teach English and French.”

Roxanne felt engaged and supported by her mentor, “I like the fact that she makes me feel comfortable, she’s not just trying to impart knowledge—the flow of knowledge goes two ways.” The support of Roxanne’s mentor would turn out to be crucial for her when shortly after they began their relationship, her father passed away suddenly. “My father was my first business mentor. After his death, my confidence and motivation were at an all time low. If it weren’t for my mentor, I would have given up.” Roxanne’s mentor had a hand in helping her regain that confidence and motivation she had lost, and then some. “I began taking advantage of the opportunities coming my way, generating my own as well. I grew my list of clients, and my loyal clients have referred even more clients to me.”

Now Roxanne is living in South Korea, teaching English, and further expanding her customer base. Since COVID-19 hit, she is working to create Youtube videos. “I want to showcase the educational skills I have, especially now with COVID-19. I’m hoping to improve literacy through these videos, but mostly I hope these videos bring more awareness to the issue of illiteracy.”