Celebrating Mentors this International Volunteer Day

A good mentoring relationship can be the difference between business success and failure – even more so in times of crisis. 

During COVID-19, many young entrepreneurs would benefit from the support of a mentor more than ever: someone who would listen to their concerns, encourage them to not give up and provide a new perspective. But the pandemic has also created new challenges for mentoring. National lockdowns prevented mentors and mentees from meeting up in person and mentors were confronted with the new task of helping young entrepreneurs take their business online as quickly as possible. 

In India and Bangladesh, our Accelerating Youth-led Businesses in the Digital Era programme, funded by IKEA Foundation, is helping young entrepreneurs to achieve just that. Mentors working with our local members BYST and B’YEAH have been a vital part of this support. 

In India, mentors took on the monumental task of calling all of BYST’s young entrepreneurs to assess the resilience of their businesses as well as to determine their support needs. This has enabled BYST to quickly adapt their support services accordingly. Mentors increased the regularity of their sessions with young entrepreneurs from fortnightly to weekly to provide additional support. They also delivered webinars to be able to reach multiple young entrepreneurs at once to address areas of concern highlighted by entrepreneurs during the pandemic. With reduced cashflow being one of the main concerns of young entrepreneurs, mentor support focused on financial support applications and helping them liaise with banks to ensure speedy disbursement of additional loans. 

In Bangladesh, B’YEAH’s mentors offered crucial support to young entrepreneurs through online and WhatsApp mentoring and conducting webinars, as well as practically helping young entrepreneurs this also provided insights into the current concerns and challenges of young entrepreneurs, which were shared with YBI and can be disseminated across the network. As part of the Accelerating Youth-led Businesses in the Digital Era programme, B’YEAH also conducted online training for its mentors to equip them with the knowledge and tools to effectively support young entrepreneurs in taking their businesses online. 

Hear what some of B’YEAH’s mentors had to say: 

  • “As a mentor, it is my job to guide my mentee to help her progress with her business. When she had to close her shop due to the COVID-19 lockdown in Bangladesh, she was devastated. I told her: online is not closed. I encouraged her to continue making her products from home and open an online shop.” 
  • “I have been able to continue to guide my mentee through the lockdown by using Zoom, WhatsApp and Facebook. I have shared what I learned at B’YEAH’s training with him and he was able to improve his digital marketing.” 
  • “When COVID-19 hit Bangladesh, us mentors were trying to figure out how to help our mentees to take their businesses online. The training we received from B’YEAH as part of the Accelerating Youth-led Businesses in the Digital Era programme helped us a lot in this regard. I believe that this programme will help our young entrepreneurs develop their potential further and contribute to our society.”

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