Mentorship for Social Good
The road to entrepreneurship can be a tough and lonely one. Thankfully, many experienced entrepreneurs are willing to share advice and guidance with those just starting down this path.
Leaving a legacy through mentoring can be rewarding beyond simply passing on knowledge and skills to younger counterparts. Many emerging leaders seek mentorship because they want to solve problems within their communities. Supporting these ambitious entrepreneurs enables mentors to give back not just to the mentee, but to communities in need.
To facilitate the sharing of knowledge for social good, organizations around the globe are dedicated to connecting entrepreneurs with mentors. In Africa, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) identifies, trains, mentors, and funds thousands of entrepreneurs across all 54 African countries.
“We have mentors across the globe who are committed to supporting entrepreneurs in the entrepreneurial journey,” explained Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, Chief Executive Officer of TEF, during a Center Stage podcast episode hosted by PMI CCO Joe Cahill. “Mentoring is a critical pillar to the program. It takes that one-on-one engagement. The commitment is two hours a week, and it sometimes is the difference between an SME [small or medium-sized enterprise] surviving or not.”
More than 9,000 entrepreneurs have gone through the TEF training and mentoring program. Sixty-five percent remain in business after two years, and many are able to create jobs for other Africans. PMI partners with TEF to provide training and mentorship around project management skills for entrepreneurs in the program.
“We hear the testimonials from our entrepreneurs [about] the difference that this opportunity has made in their lives, in their families, in their communities—the impact it has made on the people they employ, the people that supply them,” Ugochukwu shared. “It has transformed entire communities.”
In the United Kingdom, Enactus UK unites volunteer mentors with teams of students who seek to find innovative solutions to social issues within their local and international communities.
Gavin Henderson became involved as a mentor for an Enactus student team through connections he made when he was chair of the London Branch of the PMI UK Chapter. “My key role is as a business advisor and for that I was looking to give guidance on projects, project management and overall management,” he explains of the support he gives.
The team has been working on a package-free delivery system project as a means to reduce plastic packaging on groceries. The Enactus team projects align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Knowledge of how to manage an evolving team of students was one of the biggest challenges the students faced, explained Lili Csorba, who joined Enactus during her first year at university. Henderson provided the team with a brief training in agile management approaches, and “it was like a lightbulb lighting up in our head,” Csorba said. “This approach enabled us to constantly review our process. Then we can get more members and adjust our team approach for a bigger team.”
Henderson and Csorba shared their experiences on a Center Stage podcast episode. For Henderson, seeing the impact he made on the team “from a seed that I planted during a one-hour session at the end of last year is incredible,” he said. “The opportunity to work with the teams on these social entrepreneurship projects is just tremendous.”
Building the skills for the next generation of leaders who want to change the world can be a rewarding experience. Visit PMI’s Volunteer Relationship Management System to find volunteer opportunities that may be right for you.
Go deeper by listening to the full podcast episodes, Building Africa’s Entrepreneurs with Ufeniywa Ugochukwu, and Coaching and Entrepreneurship with Gavin Henderson and Lili Csorba, only on PMI’s Center Stage hosted by Joe Cahill.
Digital Exclusive article developed for Project Management Institute, Inc. by staff content writer Jill Diffendal.