Carmen Diaz-Jusino – EforAll Rhode Island
Carmen Diaz Jusino is currently the Community Development Officer for Bank Newport. Being the daughter of an immigrant and entrepreneur, she knows how hard it can be to find the right resources to help you succeed. She’s passionate about entrepreneurship and made it her life goal to help entrepreneurs and make their journey easier.
How did you hear about EforAll?
I heard about EforAll a while ago when I was at the Center for Women and Enterprise. In 2005, both organizations worked closely to help the community affected by Hurricane Cindy in New Bedford. I then participated in a few EforAll events in Roxbury and started mentoring for EforAll Rhode Island in 2022.
What made you want to become a mentor?
I’ve been a mentor in a lot of different aspects of life. I’ve been a mentor for young women and small businesses when in other organizations. When they asked me to be a mentor for EforAll, I said yes right away! For me, a mentor is not just someone that can guide you, someone you can talk to. It’s about being a sounding board, someone you can sit down with and talk about. My job is not to tell you what to do but to guide you to make an informed decision.
Can you give us some examples of the kinds of startups you have mentored with us?
The entrepreneur I’m mentoring right now is the best! She is opening a food truck while working two jobs, and not even once she came in unprepared for a meeting! She is very committed, listens, asks you the right questions, and does her due diligence before she comes to our meetings.
What is your favorite part about being a mentor?
My favorite part, believe it or not, is to listen to the entrepreneurs. From our first meeting, where we have a lot to cover, a lot to do in just 12 weeks, to see their final presentations and everything they’ve accomplished. It’s amazing to see their progress.
My past mentees were unstoppable, and it was fantastic to see their dedication and how they have overcome so many obstacles. They were so committed to the program and learned so much. Nothing is going to stop these women from doing what they want!
What do you think makes EforAll special?
I think it is the fact that the classes finish in 12 weeks, but you don’t just drop them there. It’s a long partnership. EforAll is there to help them after classes end, with monthly mentor meetings to check where they are, what they need, and how things are going. That makes a huge difference compared to other programs available out there. It’s truly special.
What advice would you have for entrepreneurs?
Don’t believe that your mentor knows it all. I have businesses, and I’ve been working with businesses for the last 25 years, but we don’t know it all. In the experience of mentoring someone, we, as mentors, give a lot, but we also learn a lot. Every journey is different, and it’s a learning experience for both of us. It’s good for them to understand that they need to look at things from different perspectives, and the mentor is one perspective; it doesn’t mean that it’s the only one or the right one.
What are the biggest challenges that women entrepreneurs face in your opinion?
Work-life balance for me is number one right now. We have the kids and the family, but we also have our parents. We are in the sandwich generation. One of the reasons why women put their dreams and hopes to the side is because of work-life balance. The other hurdle is financial, it’s access to capital. We often get ourselves prepared, get ourselves in classes and programs like EforAll, and do everything right, but sometimes we need access to capital. I am very grateful that EforAll gives some businesses a little bit of capital. I say that with all my heart because now I am an empty nester, and I’m growing my business only now. In the years past, it was work, my family, taking care of my parents, and it was a lot.
Interested in becoming a mentor? Learn more here.