Entrepreneurial Activity in Africa: Mentorship

As South Africa celebrates youth month, it is only relevant to look at the development of these “future leaders”. Entrepreneurship has had positive results for countries that found themselves in negative economic rubble, it was through the encouragement of this spirit that most of them emerged from this. The same medicine has been prescribed for the African continent, our country has erected the Small Business Ministry with this in mind. But what can the corporate world do to offer the correct resources to bring us to our desired end?

“Never have I seen further than when I stood on the shoulders of giants”, this old-age adage takes form in Ashish J Thakkar’s words (the founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation) when commenting on the African youth’s activity in entrepreneurship, “I frequently meet with entrepreneurs all over Africa, and my first question is always, “Look, what can I do for you?” They never tell me that money is their primary need—what they are really looking for is guidance. Many young African entrepreneurs are the children of civil servants or farmers. They don’t come from business backgrounds, so where can they turn for advice?”

Although the lack of funds and limited education are often noted as barriers by the youth looking to venture into entrepreneurship, it seems that mentorship and guidance are demanded more. But how should CFOs and business managers approach mentorship?

www.chronus.com offer the following steps as a guideline to setting up a mentoring programme:

  • Design Your Mentoring Program

The starting point for any mentoring program begins with two important questions:

  • Why are you starting this program?
  • What does success look like for participants and the organization?

To answer these questions you will need to dive deep to understand your target audience. Make sure you understand who they are, where they are, their development needs, and their key motivations to participate. Translate your vision into SMART objectives: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound

  • Attract Participants for Your Mentoring Program

The best designed mentoring programs won’t get far without effective program promotion, mentor recruitment, and training.

When new mentoring programs are introduced in organizations, there is generally natural enthusiasm. Yet this enthusiasm doesn’t always translate into high participation rates. A common reason is the absence of effective promotion. Don’t assume potential mentors and mentees understand the benefits. For many, this will be their first opportunity to participate in mentoring. You will need to convince them that participating is worth their time and effort.

  • Connect Mentors and Mentees

A productive mentoring relationship depends on a good match.

Matching is often one of the most challenging aspects of a program. Participants will bring various competencies, backgrounds, learning styles and needs. A great match for one person may be a bad match for another.

Matching starts by deciding which type of matching you’ll offer in your program: self-matching or admin-matching. Consider giving mentees a say in the matching process by allowing them to select a particular mentor or submit their top three choices. Self-matching is administrative light, which in larger programs can be a huge plus.

  • Guide Mentoring Relationships

Now that your participants are enrolled, trained, and matched, the real action begins.

It is also where mentoring can get stuck. Left to themselves, many mentorships will take off and thrive. But some may not. Why? Because mentoring is not typically part of one’s daily routine. Without direction and a plan, the mentoring relationship is vulnerable to losing focus and momentum. That is why providing some structure and guidance throughout the mentorship is vital to a successful mentoring program

  • Measure Your Mentoring Program

Understanding how your program measures up to expectations may well be the most important phase of all.

Mentoring programs should be tracked, measured, and assessed at three altitudes: the program, the mentoring connection, and the individual. To be effective you need the ability to capture metrics and feedback throughout the program lifecycle.

Companies that set-up mentorship programmes will reap a myriad of rewards, one of them is that they are guaranteed that skills are trickled down to new personnel and this will ensure the retention of proper skills in the company. The second benefit that relates to entrepreneurship is that more youth will have the opportunity to impact positively the economy of the country.

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