Mentors are invaluable to entrepreneurs - why? Because so often as entrepreneurs we need to get counsel on a specific business challenge or bounce an idea off someone who has a wealth of experience and the capability to take a birds-eye view of our business - and then be really honest with the feedback. It's what helps entrepreneurs to grow and thrive.
Those closest to us, for example, family and friends, may be supportive but they very rarely have the business acumen and experience to offer anything other than friendly words of encouragement when things get tough - they also tend to be biased in our favour, not always helpful when a good dose of sobering reality is needed. That’s why mentors are so valuable to the entrepreneur. Although it can be useful to have a lifelong mentor, someone who walks the business journey with you, often mentors are needed as sounding boards to find the necessary solutions to specific nagging problems or seemingly insurmountable challenges. In these cases, just 15 minutes may be all that is needed with a mentor to get clarity or an external perspective in order to find a way forward.
It was for just this reason that on 31st August, Lionesses of Africa launched its first Speed Mentoring Session for women entrepreneurs. The event was held in Johannesburg at the Standard Bank Business Incubator in Rosebank, with 30 women entrepreneurs from a wide variety of business sectors invited to get their 15 minutes of advice from individual members of the panel of 8 highly experienced mentors in attendance.
Mentors included Lionesses of Africa founder and ceo, Melanie Hawken; Head of the Standard Bank Business Incubator, Jayshree Naidoo; Raksha Mahabeer, co-founder of Summertime and a highly experienced entrepreneur and brand marketing specialist, with specialist knowledge in creating powerful brands, marcomms strategies, and online brand building; Karen Wessels, founder of VA Connect and SnappSales and a successful serial entrepreneur with vast experience of sales and marketing and new customer acquisition, together with business support services management expertise; Aleshia van der Ploeg, founder of VDP Legal Consulting, an experienced entrepreneur and legal expert, with extensive knowledge of working with startups to advise on legal issues; Nobesuthu Ndlovu, co-founder of Burgundy Fly, an estabished and successful entrepreneur with insight and specialist expertise in retail marketing and brand building; Nomusa Ndwandwe, Portfolio Head: New Markets, Small Enterprise, Standard Bank and a specialist advisor to small businesses, providing general advice and financial support to startups and established small businesses, including access to markets; and Mmbodi Rambau-Nesengani, Senior Development Impact Support Specialist, IDC, and a specialist advisor to small businesses, providing general advice on donor funding.
This new Speed Mentoring initiative from Lionesses of Africa is the first of many mentoring events, tools and platforms to be launched for women entrepreneurs across the African continent - watch this space for news of other new initiatives to follow shortly.