In this interview, Onyeche Tifase, one of the mentors in the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme tells of how her experience as a mentor and offers insights into the importance of mentoring.
Tell us how you came to be a mentor for TEEP?
I received an invitation via the Accenture Lagos Alumni email group on the 19th of May 2015. I applied soon after and was welcomed to the program (via email) on 22nd May 2015.
Who was your mentee? (name, country and business)
Name: Obot Obot
Business: Recycling/Waste Management (Improving environmental sanitation through the recycling of used PET bottles).
What were the most rewarding aspects on mentoring?
The most rewarding aspects of mentoring are:
– seeing your mentee build confidence in himself as he is guided to understand the full potential of and opportunities presented by his business idea/ initiative.
– the opportunity to hear and learn from the perspectives of a younger generation of entrepreneurs and key into what they find relevant and critical.
– establishing a rapport with a budding entrepreneur whom you can guide in the right direction and who gains from your own experiences and ideas.
Why is it important to mentor and be mentored?
Why is it important to mentor..
In mentoring, you gain and give back in so many ways. You are called on to explore for yourself what ‘really made things work’ and to share this information in a constructive and result focused manner. The Africa SME sector is thriving but still has a long way to go in order for it to contribute more significantly to the African economy. By mentoring selected entrepreneurs one is able to steer them in the right direction, communicate best practice, share lessons learnt and thereby contribute to the success and sustainability of their business and consequently Africa’s GDP.
Why is it important to be mentored….
It is important to be mentored so you are driven to envision and prospect beyond your comfort zone. Mentees are able to learn from their mentors successes and mistakes and often leverage on their networks. Mentoring is also a great opportunity to establish relationships with others who have gained broader perspectives, acquired unique experiences and made some impact in the business world. This in itself presents an opportunity that can lead to other greater ones.
What is in the pipeline for your mentee and will you continue to mentor entrepreneurs?
What is in the pipeline …..
Obot is presently focused on running his business for profit however this business initiative has such positive implications for the environment and a greener Nigeria. It also contributes immensely to job creation for youths with limited education, experience and skills.
I have encouraged Obot to collaborate with Local Governments in his area and also other State Governments to promote his concept and to acquire their support and backing.
Will you continue to mentor entrepreneurs?….
I will most certainly continue to mentor other entrepreneurs – via TEEP and other program(s), in the community and the workplace. I appreciated the opportunity presented via TEEP to mentor those already shortlisted & selected for their creativity, tenacity, ethics and belief in themselves and what they have to offer. I am confident the TEEP program is making a significantly positive and recognizable impact in the Africa SME space.