In searching for the recipe behind building successful entrepreneurial ecosystems, core ingredients such as funding, talent and technology are often cited as critical. As many Global Entrepreneurship Week hosts have discovered however, mentorship is a key element to healthy entrepreneurial ecosystems. Silicon Valley’s pay-it-forward culture for example, the idea of successful entrepreneurs helping, networking and connecting with other aspiring entrepreneurs, makes Silicon Valley both unique and successful.
Many country hosts and other strategic partners around the world have followed Silicon Valley’s example by launching a variety of mentorship initiatives in their respective countries.
One of GEW’s global partners is Endeavor, a global network of entrepreneur communities and resources, which was founded with the initial purpose of bringing entrepreneurial mentoring programs and opportunities to entrepreneurs in emerging markets. At the heart of Endeavor’s model lies customized services from a volunteer network of 1,000+ global and local business leaders (“VentureCorps”) who serve as mentors, advisors, connectors, investors, and role models. The success of this model eventually led to the realization that Endeavor could also support American communities, as not all parts of the US could replicate Silicon Valley’s success. In September 2013, Endeavor Miami became Endeavor’s first US affiliate.
A new report analyzing the development of Silicon Valley, published by Endeavor Insight on July 29, 2014, identified a pattern that Endeavor Insight has observed in many other successful entrepreneurship communities. This includes countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Turkey where local Endeavor offices are also coordinating Global Entrepreneurship Week. It is a process they refer to as the Entrepreneurship Acceleration Cycle consisting of ambition, growth, commitment and reinvestment. According to the report, “the final step of the cycle i.e. reinvestment occurs when the founders of successful companies are able to reinvest in other entrepreneurs and businesses”.
For the past two years, Futurpreneur Canada, the official GEW host organization in Canada, has partnered with Startup Canada to host a GEW campaign focused on mentoring. Amanda Filipe, program manager at Futurpreneur, believes this approach helps them to recruit mentors who can work with entrepreneurs year-round. As a result of running successful mentoring programs for several years, Futurpreneur has assembled a number of resources for mentors as well as for entrepreneurs including a mentor in residence, online crash courses, a certificate program in entrepreneurial mentoring offered in partnership with a Canadian university and more. They also have an impact measurement methodology that includes quarterly reporting from the mentor and the entrepreneur as well as bi-annual surveys. A recent partnership with two professors from Ryerson University allows Futurpreneur to evaluate some of the data from the entrepreneur surveys to demonstrate the impact of the mentor on business success. A wealth of resources can be found online through Futurepreneur, including resources for mentors, information about building mentoring relationships and resources for entrepreneurs. Mentoring resources can also be found in the Global Entrepreneurship Library inEnglish and in French.
Ciputra Foundation, the official GEW host organization in Indonesia, has over seven years of experience in custom-designing mentorship programs. Ivan Sandjaja, director of the Ciputra Incubator & Accelerator Program is of the opinion that two different kinds of mentorships programs are required for entrepreneurs to grow and sustain their business: a business mentor and a product-expert mentor.
A business mentor helps an entrepreneur fine-tune their business model, focusing on creating value and market dynamics, which can be done remotely.
A product-expert mentor works with an entrepreneur on the technical innovation side and focuses more on the production process. This kind of mentorship requires a more hands-on approach and close contact between the entrepreneur and the mentor.
Bader Lebanon, the official GEW host organization in Lebanon, is currently streamlining their ad-hoc mentorship program by implementing an online support system as well developing a methodology for tracking the startup’s progress over the course of six months. This will help to assess the mentor’s the impact on the business with goal of optimizing the hours that the mentor puts into the process. Fadi Bizri, managing director of Bader Young Entrepreneurs Program is consulting with members of the GEW network for best practices in this process.
Global Entrepreneurship Week Moldova, the official GEW host organization in Moldova, runs a mentorship program with a partner organization targeting women entrepreneurs. Olesea Fortuna, founder of GEW Moldova and a board member of Invento, is keen to expand their mentorship initiatives to include an international mentorship program for Moldovan entrepreneurs and would like to hear from mentors in the international community who would be interested in developing links with the Moldovan ecosystem.
Silatech, the official GEW host organization in Qatar, joined forces with Microsoft Citizenship in April 2012 to create a platform called Ta3mal, which connects young graduates to career paths, potential entrepreneurs to mentors, partners and funding, change makers to networks and advice. Silatech partnered with organizations across the world to bring together the best resources, tools and combined them with live virtual advisors.
The Ta3mal website also has a number of mentorship resources, many of which are available in Arabic.
Silatech’s mentorship initiatives reach beyond Qatar’s borders in the form of a partnership with Shaqodoon Organization, the official GEW host organization in Somalia, and the American Refugee Committee, an international NGO, to contribute to the Somali Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Program (SYEEP). SYEEP provides livelihood skills, training and employment opportunities to Somali Youth. The program’s activities will build on Shaqodoon’s existing Job and Business Information Service Center, as well as its training and support services to youth and employers. The services offered will include business mentoring and career counseling services to 480 youth.
Endeavor Turkey, the official GEW host organization in Turkey, has launched the Mentor Bank initiative as part of their GEW activities this year. The Mentor Bank is an on-line platform bringing together all the mentors in the entrepreneurial community under the same roof, in honor of Ziya Boyacigiller, a respected and beloved mentor of the local entrepreneurship ecosystem who recently passed away. The Mentor Bank platform will not only bring together the mentors in the network but also make it easier for entrepreneurs to reach out and interact with the mentors.
Empretec Zimbabwe, the official GEW host organization in Zimbabwe, is running a popular program called the DEN which is loosely modeled on the show Dragon’s Den and was launched during GEW 2013. Instead of pitching for funds, the aspiring entrepreneurs in the DEN have to pitch the successful entrepreneurs for any non-monetary business requirement they have which could be anything from an introduction to a new client to access to resources they need, or indeed for mentorship. The mentorship aspect is often volunteered by the successful entrepreneurs which invariably contributes to the success and popularity of the program.
Image source: Endeavor