There is no doubt that the road to success is often paved with challenges and failures – and in some cases, it’s an almost impossible road if one does not have the right support. Drawing on the experiences of someone else who has walked the road before you, and who can offer guidance through your ups and downs, can make all the difference. That is why mentorship plays such a key role in developing up-and-coming entrepreneurs, employees and organisations, especially in South Africa where people who grow up in disadvantaged communities often don’t have access to people with networks or to positive role models.
Mentorship should be accessible by everyone, and that is exactly what the non-profit organisation National Mentorship Movement (NMM) aims to allow every South African so that they can prosper and grow through mentorship.
So far, NMM has managed over 1000 mentorship relationships, but their real mandate is to mobilise 100 000 mentors in the next three years. They aim to do this through the 3 Ps: their platform, partners and programmes.
NMM uses their digital platform to connect volunteer mentors, who have experience and a willingness to contribute, with mentees who have a desire to thrive.
‘We help them to foster a relationship of mutual trust through combining their skills and experience to transform the life of the mentee, and often that of the mentor as well,’ explains Dave Wilson, the CEO and co-founder of NMM.
Typically, the formal relationship will last for a year. This gives the partners time to get to know each other, set goals together, and achieve those goals. NMM manages and evaluates these relationships through electronic surveys and telephonic contact to ensure everyone stays on track.
NMM works with partners who offer access to mentors as well as partners whose beneficiaries will profit from mentorship. Wilson describes mentorship as a catalyst that ignites the other ingredients in their partners’ existing CSI initiatives, increasing their impact and return on investment.
Together with their partners, NMM focuses on areas with the greatest potential to create jobs and assist young people – women, men, students and entrepreneurs – to succeed. They work in different sectors such as tourism, manufacturing and the creative industries.
For example, NMM is running mentorship programmes that support SMMEs and people in the tourism and printing industries, as well as providing mentorship support to some of Standard Bank’s SMME clients. They’re also are providing mentorship support to hundreds of young people on a new venture-creation programme run by the Da Vinci Institute on behalf of the Gauteng City Region Academy.
NMM staff are also excited by a pilot programme they’re running with the Sanlam Investment Group, where senior leaders and executives mentor employees within the group. ‘We salute Sanlam for this pioneering concept, which should add value to any organisation in South Africa – having formalised mentorship within their organisation while connecting their people with the lived reality of the majority of people in our country,’ explains Wilson.
NMM has now successfully delivered mentorship programmes across South Africa with partners spanning corporates, institutions and industries. ‘We have successfully introduced group mentorship to supplement the traditional one-on-one mentorship model. We know mentorship is not easy, but we also have the benefit of knowing what works and what does not,’ says Wilson.