When the experience of some accelerates the success of others!
SIBC Mentoring: Cross Interview
Sharing, learning, engaging, guidance,… So many words commonly used to talk about the benefits of entrepreneurial mentoring. We thought it would be more relevant to share the story of a mentor and his mentee to demonstrate the power of such a mechanism and the positive impact on both individuals.
Mentoring is becoming essential when growing a s a leader and scaling a business therefore some entrepreneurial programmes now include a mentoring scheme within their curriculum. This is the case of the SIBC (Social & Inclusive Business Camp) -the acceleration programme dedicated to African businesses with a positive impact– developed and funded by the French Agency for Development and currently run by a consortium of four organisations: Investisseurs&Partenaires, African Management Institute, ScaleChanger and STARTUP Brics. Each partner organisation brings its own expertise and network. ScaleChanger –expert in the scaling of social innovations in Europe and in the South with extensive experience in entrepreneurial programmes coordination- is leading the scale-up part as well as the mentoring mechanism within the SIBC.
The 2020 participants of the current edition are participating in a virtual learning phase which will end with a digital bootcamp and Emerging Valley, the annual meeting of African Tech leaders and Startups, next April 2021. Since the beginning of the camp, the entrepreneurs have received individual support from a mentor of the previous SIBC editions. Indeed, after running for the last three years, the SIBC community is now full of talents willing to help each other and to grow together. The strength of this system lies in the common experience: the mentor is a social and inclusive entrepreneur in Africa with an experience in scaling up and/or raising funds, and s/he took part in the SIBC in the past. This common aim of societal impact is enriched by the diversity of profiles, backgrounds and industries represented within the community. The pairs face the same challenges but the mentees can benefit from the unique experience of their mentor.
We interviewed a pair for whom the relationship began in September 2020.
Ninah RATSIRARSON, head of Manitra a construction company in Madagascar, is a member of the Soroptimist International Club, a worldwide network developing projects for women such as « La Maison Digitale pour les Femmes » (The female digital house) which promotes women’s empowerment through digital technology. The project won an award from La France s’Engage Foundation, an organisation that promotes and supports social innovation initiatives. Ninah, as its representative, took part in the SIBC bootcamp during the 2019 edition.
Manitra being severely hit by the pandemic, Ninah is currently working on starting a new business: KIAS SARL –a biomass fuel plant that will provide a sustainable alternative in response to the upcoming energy crisis on the island. Charcoal which is the main source of fuel in Madagascar will run out by 2030. A fruit tree reforestation programme will be linked to the KIAS factory so that local women can grow fruits then sell their juice as a source of income.
Jonas Daniel NSEGBE, from Cameroon, works at ARECC – Association des Rapatriés et de lutte contre l’émigration clandestine au Cameroun (an organisation whose main mission is to fight clandestine migration and to empower young people through agricultural projects. Each year in Cameroon, nearly 100,000 young people are sensitized to the dangers and alternatives to irregular migration thanks to the ARECC. Jonas joined the SIBC for the 2020 edition.
Why did you get involved with SIBC?
Ninah: My participation in the SIBC was a real stepping stone. I had participated in many other programmes in the past but I saw a real difference which resulted in a better ability to develop and find funds for my project. Then I felt like supporting another SIBC entrepreneur to enhance their journey.
Jonas: ARECC is reaching out to more and more people. As our impact grows, we are aiming to structure our organisation with an ambition to spread our messages beyond Cameroon’s borders. The SIBC is an acceleration programme providing guidance and tools for business development while giving access to a warm and multi-profiled community.
What do you gain from the mentoring experience?
Ninah: I mentor other young entrepreneurs in the development of their businesses and the mentoring resources offered by the SIBC help me grow and strengthen my role as a mentor. For me, mentoring is above all the pleasure of helping others and seeing my mentees grow along with their projects. It gives me real joy!
Jonas: Mentoring gives you the opportunity to build a relationship with someone from a different background and with an objective perspective willing to help you on a volunteer basis. When I spoke to Ninah about the ARECC project, her point of view was very beneficial and relevant because it was external. Her ideas were neutral, original and different. For example, she advised me to shift from intensive to sustainable agriculture in our agricultural projects as an alternative to irregular migration. Moreover, her technical experience combined with the awards she won are very inspiring.
How does the relationship work?
Jonas: Based on the SIBC’s recommendations, we set a framework and discuss topics that I submit to Ninah ahead to our meetings. I am proactive in the relationship and I organise the sessions.
Ninah: I like Jonas’s ability to perform -to get things done- and to make suggestions and innovate. Besides, I don’t just give advice, our relationship is really based on mutual learning and two-way exchanges.
The other’s greatest quality?
Ninah: Jonas’ versatility, he has great responsibilities within the organisation while continuing working in the field on the agricultural projects. That amazes me!
Jonas: Ninah is extraordinarily simple and has a very maternal side. She is very attentive, a great listener and can show strength when necessary.
Any advice to share with other SIBC pairs or any entrepreneur involved in a mentoring programme?
Jonas: Patience. A mentor may take time to get back to you because they have their own daily routine and rhythm. So be patient and proactive to ensure a successful relationship.
Ninah: benevolence. It is essential to be in a position where wanting the good of the other person is the priority. It forces you to listen.
What can we wish you for the future?
Jonas: For ARECC to be known and recognized at an international level. Our mission is impactful and is useful to all migrant populations as well as countries hosting these irregular migrants. ARECC would like to develop tools (manuals for example) for a future internationalization in order to meet large donors. I also hope to be a mentor myself one day!
Ninah: The success of our biomass project, which I am convinced could be relevant all over Africa, especially in Cameroon where Jonas could coordinate it!
Both: And if an opportunity for a physical meeting arises, we will seize it without hesitation!
The final word:
Jonas: The SIBC is a programme that every social and inclusive entrepreneur with a growing business should take part in. I am in the right place at the right time. And even if not everyone achieves their dream and goals in the end, it is still a great opportunity in an entrepreneurial journey.
Find out more about SIBC
Since its creation in 2017 by the Development Campus of Agence Française du Développement (AFD), the Social & Inclusive Business Camp has supported hundreds of entrepreneurs with a strong societal impact on Africa, in scaling up, measuring their social performance and preparing them to raise funds.
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