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Ashish J Thakkar, Founder of Mara Group & Mara Foundation tells AB2020:
‘From having started business at the age of 15 to being elected as Chair of the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurship Council, I understand firsthand the importance of mentorship for entrepreneurs. For entrepreneurs at the start of their journey, a real obstacle to growth is the fear of failure. The best way to overcome this fear is to access mentorship from real business experts who have gone through the same experiences. We need to seize the opportunity presented by the proliferation of mobile phones on the continent, to provide young entrepreneur with the advice that they need to launch and grow their businesses.’
The coverage surrounding mentoring has increased significantly over the years, and is evident through the proliferation of economic initiatives and organisational development strategies endorsing mentoring, writes Rona Kotecha, Global Head of Mara Foundation.
Mentoring is a key component for future growth and sustainability of our economic communities and society at large. A common factor amongst successful individuals is that they all had mentors, someone who provided practical career orientated and psychosocial support.
Mentors part with knowledge and experience from their own journeys, they bring a fresh perspective and provide guidance and support at critical junctures of the entrepreneurs’ journey. Their industry insights, feedback and evaluation are vital for emerging entrepreneurs to navigate some of their challenges. Psychosocial support leads to increased confidence of mentees through the acknowledgement and recognition of their potential.
Mara Foundation’s free online mentoring platform Mara Mentor gives ambitious entrepreneurs access to mentors and necessary resources. It provides entrepreneurs with an opportunity to connect with industry specialists regionally and globally, and offers users the necessary resources required to take their concepts from idea stage through to implementation.
Ambitious entrepreneurs also have the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals to share learnings, and potentially collaborate. Mara Mentor particularly enables young and female entrepreneurs to gain a better understanding of the processes in setting up and running their own businesses and overcoming challenges with the support of their mentors, which is often the barrier for young and women entrepreneurs globally.
Mara Mentors are volunteers who are invaluable in providing entrepreneurs with the knowledge and guidance required at various stages of their business. Mentors are happy to part with industry insights and make connections necessary to enable entrepreneurs to develop further.
What the mentees on the Mara Mentor platform say:
‘My mentor has provided valuable guidance and support and tips for enhancing our product. We were able to soft launch our service, with the help of our mentor who also became our first client.’
‘A sense of urgency has been realised through my mentorship and made me see that my idea is a real source of livelihood and career growth for myself and my company.’
‘Before the mentorship, I had revenue of UGX600,000 in a month.’Now I earn UGX1,000,000 per month because the mentorship taught me to market myself better and in so doing, I got the deal that got me the million.’
With the use of Mara Mentor, entrepreneurs have the opportunity to develop personally and professionally, up skill through progressive movement of a mentoring relationship. Mentoring facilitates the growth of individuals entrepreneurial capability, allowing entrepreneurs to gain momentum, amplified thought processes, confidence and hope, as they are Enabled, Empowered and Inspired by their mentor.
Mara Mentor is an essential tool enabling and building entrepreneurial capacity in young and women entrepreneurs, and empowers individuals to contribute to sustainable growth of communities and economies through job creation thus reducing unemployment.
Rona Kotecha is the Global Head – Mara Mentor & Mara Foundation. Check out the Mara Mentor video above and sign up as a mentor today! Download for free, available on iOS and Android.