October 3 , 2020
By HAGOS GEBREAMLAK ( FORTUNE STAFF WRITER )
The Centre for African Leadership Studies has graduated the first 30 business mentors that will provide advice and support to entrepreneurs who are looking to improve their businesses. The trainees, the first for the country, took a three-month online training programme.
The Centre trained the mentors in cooperation with xHub and MasterCard Foundation, which committed 250,000 dollars to support the project. The graduated mentors, who studied various entrepreneurial leadership lessons and skills during the training, will advise 20 small and micro-enterprises across the country.
Held last Friday, the virtual graduation was attended by Filsan Abdullahi, minister of Women, Children & Youth, Nigussu Tilahun, the Jobs Creation Commissioner, and Alemayehu Konde Koira, head of MasterCard Foundation Ethiopia.
The project aims at solving mentorship shortages to new entrepreneurs and business developers, according to Tewodros Tadesse, founder and CEO of the Centre for African Leadership Studies, which was established in 2012.
The Centre launched the second incubation hub of the nation, xHub, in 2014. The xHub incubator is tasked with mentoring young entrepreneurs to develop businesses and services in the fields of information technology, agribusiness, communication, health, transportation, engineering, art, design and education. Since its establishment, xHub graduates have launched 20 start-ups.
The idea to graduate business mentors came after the Centre and the Foundation saw that the trained entrepreneurs were being challenged by a shortage of mentorship support, according to Tewodros.
“We understood that new entrepreneurs need skilled mentors to manage their business and resources effectively,” said Tewodros.
The lack of skilled mentors especially for small and micro start-ups has been a major challenge in the country, according to Alemayehu of MasterCard Foundation, which pledges to support the Centre's goal of graduating 60 mentors in the next three months.
"Many micro and small-enterprises have been failing due to the lack of appropriate mentorship," said Tewodros.
"The Foundation will keep on helping the graduated mentors by providing technical support to develop their business enterprises, build a business network, or establish incubation centres," Alemayehu said.
“This a pilot project, and we'll expand it," said Alemayehu, adding that the Foundation is looking to expand the project to train many more mentors across the country.
Eden Begashaw, one of the graduates, dreams of running her own company. A friend of hers, who knew how motivated she was, recommended Eden for the programme.
“I hope to be a relief to many small enterprises that have been suffering from a lack of sufficient mentorship,” she said.
The Centre, which plans to train 5,000 mentors and coaches in the coming three years, has started talking to start-ups so that at least each entrepreneur has a mentor, according to the CEO.
The need for mentors has become substantial these days, according to Wondwesen Zewdie, department general manager at R&D Group Plc, a consulting company and member of the Dutch-based R&D Group.
"Mentorship has become as important as capital, technology and other necessary factors of production," said Wondwesen.
Previously, entrepreneurs were getting training through short courses on how to handle their business, but this trend has become archaic and is no longer viable, according to Wondwesen.
“The traditional trend is not as effective as having a mentor,” he said.
Usually, there are two types of mentorship: technical and soft skills. The former is about practical skills, and the latter is on non-technical skills such as human resources and finance administration and management, as well as leadership skills.
"The Centre should focus more on the soft skills since what many enterprises lack most is non-technical mentorship," recommended Wondwesen.
PUBLISHED ON Oct 03,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1066]
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